Experts say moms unlikely to pass COVID-19 to newborns, breastfeeding still recommended

Coronavirus

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — COVID-19 is known to impact adults and other vulnerable populations, but health professionals say babies are not as susceptible to the virus as doctors and scientists first thought.

Certified pediatrician and neonatologist at Miami Valley Hospital, Amanda Graf, said at the start of the pandemic mothers were encouraged to stay away from their babies if they tested positive, but since July, the rules have changed. 

“Babies and mothers in the hospital still [stay] together. We do still want to protect [the] baby so that when mom is within that six feet of [the] baby and she has a positive test she should be wearing a mask.”

She said hand hygiene is also more important than ever, but even parents of babies who’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19 shouldn’t panic. 

“Most recent data coming from the American Academy of Pediatrics is that out of about 3,000 cases, it looks like somewhere between two and five percent of those babies are testing positive.”

The fatality rate for infants is even smaller than that, at less than one percent. For that reason, she said moms should continue to nurture, and naturally feed their newborns. 

“Breastfeeding as far as we know, is still one of the most important things that we can encourage for moms and babies. So far nucleic acid from the virus has been detected in breast milk, but no live virus has been detected in breast milk.”

Graf added, in addition to wearing a mask and practicing good hand hygiene, mothers should limit interactions with their babies to only necessary ones if they contract COVID-19.

She said moms should lean on loved ones for help while they recover from the coronavirus and non-essential interactions with outside friends and family members should be kept at a minimum. Most importantly, moms and babies should not skip out on medical care, especially as flu season sets in.

For more CDC guidelines and recommendations pregnancy, breastfeeding, and caring for newborn during COVID-19, click here.


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