‘Breastfeeding a baby by coronavirus mother safe'

‘Breastfeeding a baby by coronavirus mother safe, albeit with precaution’

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More than anyone, a 45-year-old woman who had tested positive for coronavirus, the seventh case in Karnataka would have heaved a sigh of relief when her one-month-old baby girl tested negative for the virus. But it also threw a challenge - nursing the baby without transmitting the disease to her.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding (i.e no other fluids or solids) for six months. With this baby’s case, neonatologists dispelled myths surrounding breastfeeding by a COVID-19 mother. When DH contacted Kalaburagi’s ESIC Medical College where the 45-year-old woman is housed, the college’s Dean Dr A Nagaraj refused to comment.

Dr Sreenath Manikanti, Senior Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist, Fortis La Femme Hospital, Richmond Road, said, “There is no evidence that breastfeeding leads to the transmission of the disease. If the mother takes adequate precaution like wearing an N95 mask while feeding and then keeps the baby away after feeding, there is no risk of transmission. If the mother is sick, she can also express her milk and someone else can feed the baby with a small spoon.”

Manikanti cited a statement of Breastfeeding Medicine that said, “In limited studies on women with COVID-19 and another coronavirus infection, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), the virus has not been detected in breast milk; however, we do not know whether mothers with COVID-19 can transmit the virus via breast milk.”

Dr N Karthik Nagesh, HOD, Neonatology, and Chairman, Manipal Advanced Child Care Centre, said, “Going by the Centre for Disease Control of the United States and the guidelines issued by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, person-to-person spread occurs mainly via respiratory droplets. The virus has not been detected in breast milk. They recommend that a mother with flu continue breastfeeding or feed expressed breast milk to her infant while taking precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant.” Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants, he added.

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