COVID Unlikely to Be Transmitted by Breast Milk
By Robert Preidt
No cases of an infant contracting COVID-19 from breast milk have been documented, but questions about the potential risk remain.
Researchers examined 64 samples of breast milk collected from 18 women across the United States who were infected with the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19.
One sample tested positive for coronavirus RNA, but follow-up tests showed that the virus couldn’t replicate and therefore, couldn’t infect the breastfed infant, according to the study recently published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“Detection of viral RNA does not equate to infection. It has to grow and multiply in order to be infectious and we did not find that in any of our samples,” said study author Christina Chambers, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego. She is also director of the Mommy’s Milk Human Milk Research Biorepository.
“Our findings suggest breast milk itself is not likely a source of infection for the infant,” Chambers said in a UCSD news release.
To prevent transmission of the virus while breastfeeding, wearing a mask, hand-washing and sterilizing pumping equipment after each use are recommended.
“We hope our results and future studies will give women the reassurance needed for them to breastfeed. Human milk provides invaluable benefits to mom and baby,” said co-author Dr. Grace Aldrovandi, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles.