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National Breastfeeding Commission

Breastfeeding and COVID 19

Statement by the National Breastfeeding Commission of 11 March 2020, updating: 13. August 2020

The main form of COVID 19 transmission is droplet infection. This means that when droplets from the throat or respiratory tract that contain the virus are released into the air by sneezing, coughing or speaking, tiny saliva droplets are then inhaled or absorbed by another person.

So far, no COVID 19 pathogens have been discovered in the breast milk of infected women, although the number of cases studied is not yet very large. There is thus not enough evidence at present to determine whether COVID 19 can be transmitted in breast milk. The main risk factor for transmission during breastfeeding is close skin contact. But the advantages of breastfeeding outweigh the drawbacks, which is why it is recommended provided that the necessary hygiene measures are observed.
Nursing mothers who are infected, or suspected cases, should wash their hands thoroughly before and after contact with their baby and wear a face covering to prevent transmission of the virus by droplet infection during breastfeeding.

Hygiene measures like washing hands thoroughly, wearing a face covering and cleaning/disinfecting contaminated surfaces are generally recommended when those infected or suspected of infection are in contact with children.

If a mother is unable to breastfeed her baby, breast milk can be pumped off and fed to the infant by another person. Here, too, attention should be paid to hygiene; the pump and the bottle should be sterilised after use.



Download Statement "Breastfeeding and COVID 19" (pdf)