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Episode 34: COVID-19, the Vaccine & Breastfeeding

, , January 21, 2021

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In this episode, Jacqueline Kincer, IBCLC reviews the most pertinent evidence to date regarding COVID-19, current vaccines for COVID-19, and breastfeeding. In June 2020, WHO (World Health Organization) recommended that mothers should continue to breastfeed, and that the benefits of breastfeeding substantially outweigh the potential risks for transmission.

A study done in May took breastmilk samples from 43 mothers that were negative for the COVID-19 virus but 3 mothers tested positive for viral particles by RT-PCR from those three infants one infant tested positive but it was unknown if they were breastfed. The other two tested negative as one was breastfed and the other newborn was fed expressed breastmilk after viral RNA particles were no longer detected.

RNA detection in the breast milk is not the same as the virus for transmission of COVID-19 to occur it would require replicative and infectious virus to be able to reach target sites in the infant.

Secretory IgA (the most abundant type of antibody in breastmilk, making up 90% of breastmilk antibodies) has been detected in breastmilk of mothers with previous COVID-19 infection.

The CDC says it is unclear as to where mothers with covid can spread virus to babies in breast milk but current evidence suggests that this isn’t likely. To date there is no SARS-CoV-2 that has been isolated from breast milk and there is no documented cases of transmission of infectious virus to the infant through breast milk.