The World Health Organization (WHO) has moved to debunk claims in certain quarters that COVID-19 can be transmitted through breastfeeding.
According to the global health body, there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted via breast milk, even when a nursing mother has contracted the virus.
The clarification was provided by WHO in a statement on its website. It urged nursing mothers to continue feeding their babies in spite of the pandemic. It noted that it is safer to breastfeed than to give infants formula milk.
“WHO and UNICEF encourage women to continue to breastfeed during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if they have confirmed or suspected COVID-19,” the statement said.
“While researchers continue to test breast milk from mothers with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, current evidence indicates that it is unlikely that COVID-19 would be transmitted through breastfeeding or by giving breast milk that has been expressed by a mother who is confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19.”
The statement added that while researches continue to go on, nursing mothers should have no fears about breastfeeding their babies as the benefits of breastfeeding outweighs any potential health risk.
“Active COVID-19 virus has not, to date, been detected in the breastmilk of any mother with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. It appears unlikely, therefore, that COVID-19 would be transmitted through breastfeeding or by giving breastmilk that has been expressed by a mother who is confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19.
“Women with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 can therefore breastfeed if they wish to do so.”
“The numerous benefits of breastfeeding substantially outweigh the potential risks of illness associated with the virus,” the statement added.