SARS-CoV-2 transmission via breast milk unlikely, study finds
Mothers are not likely to transmit SARS-CoV-2 to their infants through breast milk, according to a recent study.
Among 64 samples of breast milk from 18 women who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, only one contained detectable SARS-CoV-2 RNA, Christina Chambers, PhD, MPH, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues reported. However, subsequent samples were negative, and the researchers reported finding no replication-competent virus in any samples, including that one.
“There is no evidence that breast milk produced by mothers who are known to be infected with this virus can infect the infant or toddler,” Chambers told Healio. “Furthermore, if there was infectious virus in breast milk, our findings suggest that treatment with Holder pasteurization eliminates that virus. This is reassuring for the many infants who receive milk from donor milk banks.”
Recently, the AAP said it supports COVID-19-infected mothers who want to continue to breastfeed their child.
“While we want to have more data on a larger number of samples, the take-home message for parents and clinicians is quite reassuring,” Chambers said. “For mothers who have a known or suspected COVID-19 infection, initiation or continuation of breastfeeding their infant or toddler is unlikely to pose a risk of transmission of the virus via the milk itself.”
Chambers said mothers with COVID-19 who choose to breastfeed “should use appropriate hygiene procedures to prevent infection of the infant or toddler through respiratory droplets,” in line with guidance from the AAP and others.
“The new information from our study just adds to that statement by providing reassurance that the infected mother's breast milk likely does not contain virus that is capable of infecting that infant or toddler,” Chambers said.