Study says Coronavirus transmission by means of breastfeeding is rare, but mother must be cautious

Study says Coronavirus transmission by means of breastfeeding is rare, but mother must be cautious. After breaking down 176 reported cases of coronavirus infections in newborn infants, scientists found that while 30 per cent of the babies may have contracted the virus from the mother, breastfeeding was not associated with the viral transmission.

The researchers, including Daniele De Luca from Paris Saclay University Hospitals in France, performed a meta-analysis of published cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection in neonates as defined by at least one positive nasopharyngeal swab test and/or the detection of explicit antibodies in the blood.

Of the 176 cases analyzed, the study published in the diary Nature Communications, discovered that 70 per cent of the cases resulted from environmental exposure, while the remaining were likely the result of vertical transmission of the virus from mother to baby.

In the analysis, 97 infants went on to develop the coronavirus with clinical manifestations like those reported in older patients, including respiratory, fever, and gastrointestinal, and neurological symptoms. It noted that around 9 per cent of the 176 cases were confirmed to be as a result of vertical transmission with infection acquired before or during childbirth.

When taking a gander at infections that occurred at least 72 hours after birth, the researchers found that infants in the example who stayed in a crib next to their mother in hospital appeared to have a higher incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infections.

They said in the event that rooming-in takes place, then appropriate cleanliness measures and protective equipment ought to be made available to reduce the risk of transmission as a result of environmental exposure. According to the scientists, breastfeeding was not associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection. “Viral transmission through milk is rare, if at all, but further studies are needed to confirm this,” they said.

After examining how the newborns became infected and what symptoms they developed, the doctors looked at whether mothers with Covid-19 passed the infection on through close contact or breastfeeding. The doctors found “no extra risk from breastfeeding”, but on the off chance that the mother was infectious, the odds of giving the virus to her baby in the first barely any days were almost five times higher than if mother and baby were kept apart.

“We know that keeping the mother and baby together has a lot of advantages, but on the off chance that the mother is symptomatic, it would be better for some days to be cautious,” De Luca told The Guardian, adding that the mother may want to express milk so it can be given by a family member until she is no longer infectious. “In the event that they cannot be separated, and in some cases it is impossible, the mother should try to be extra-careful while she is symptomatic, and if possible use PPE and hand gel to reduce the risk of transmission,” Luca added.

Dr Helen Mactier, president of the British Association of Perinatal Medicine said, “This paper provides reassuring evidence to add to what we know already. Neonatal Covid-19 is very rare, and generally a mild sickness. There is no reason to amend current advice that mother and baby can stay together except if there is a medical reason for the baby to be admitted to a neonatal unit. Really importantly, this paper provides good evidence of the safety of breastfeeding, which ought to of course be encouraged.”

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