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Covid infected mothers may continue to breastfeed : WHO

Geneva/New Delhi: World Health Organization has said that there is no evidence of COVID-19 transmission from mother to child and hence mothers infected with the virus may continue to breastfeed.

Mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be encouraged to initiate and continue breastfeeding and not be separated from their infants, unless the mother is too unwell, said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, WHO.

“So far we have not been able to detect live virus in breast milk ….cases have been identified where there have been RNA fragments of the virus in breast milk but we haven’t actually identified live virus in breast milk. And so, the risk of transmission from mother to child, so far, has not been established,” added Dr Anshu Banerjee, WHO’s Director of Maternal, Newborn, Child & Adolescent Health & Ageing.

Addressing the regular online press briefing on COVID-19 on Friday, Dr Tedros said that WHO has carefully investigated the risks of women transmitting Covid infection to their babies during breastfeeding. We know that children are at relatively low-risk of coronavirus, but are at high risk of numerous other diseases and conditions that breastfeeding prevents. Based on the available evidence, WHO’s advice is that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of the virus.

In its guidelines, WHO outlines the precautions mothers with coronavirus must take while breastfeeding. They should practice respiratory hygiene and wear a mask, wash hands before and after touching the baby and routinely clean and disinfect surfaces.

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