The World Health Organization (WHO) has said there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted via breast milk, even when a nursing mother has contracted the virus.
In a statement by WHO on its website, the health body said nursing mothers are urged to continue breastfeeding their babies in spite of the pandemic.
It stressed that while researchers are testing breast milk from mothers with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, 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 adds: “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 body restated that “the numerous benefits of breastfeeding substantially outweigh the potential risks of illness associated with the virus.”