Neonatologists insist that breastfeeding is safe even though the mother is infected

The rise in infections driven by the effects of the omicron variant and the increase in concern both in pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding has prompted a call for calm on the part of the neonatologists, that try to avoid a further decline in breastfeeding rates, as happened during the first waves, because the mother was infected.

“We do not yet have data of a decrease during the sixth wave but we do know that due to the pandemic, especially in the first wave, there was a lot of uncertainty about transmission of the virus from mother to baby during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, [las madres] they decided not to breastfeed “, he exposes Tomás Sánchez Tamayo, member of the Spanish Society of Neonatology (Seneo) and head of the Neonatology section of the Regional Hospital of Malaga, who recalls that vertical mother-child contagion is practically exceptional.

During the first wave in March 2020, according to data from Seneo, breastfeeding rates fell to 60% of infected mothers “due to initial logical uncertainty and the severity of many cases.”

However, subsequent studies such as those developed by Milkcorona – led by the CSIC and the Hospital Clínico Universitario de Valencia – have shown that Breast milk is capable of transmitting antibodies from the Covid-19 infected mother to the newborn.

“Instead of increasing the risk, what has been seen is that it even has benefits, it protects, because the mother who has Covid generates antibodies that pass through the breast. On the other hand, if you give the bottle, these antibodies do not have them and the transmission from the mother to the baby will be the same “, adds Tomás Sánchez Tamayo, who also emphasizes that, except in exceptional cases,” there is no “vertical transmission During pregnancy.

The Spanish Society of Neonatology adds that in April 2020, still in full confinement, the initial doubts cleared about the possible risks of breastfeeding when infected, exclusive or mixed breastfeeding was maintained “successfully and without complications” in more than 80% of cases, exceeding 70% of exclusive breastfeeding in mothers infected by Sars-Cov-2.

The Regional Chief of Neonatology emphasizes that the recommendation is that women keep breastfeeding, firstly because there is no risk but also because of the benefits of breastfeeding for both the baby and the woman.


“Breast milk is adapted to the newborn as it grows. All the infant formulas that we make or that make in the industry, try to resemble mother’s milk,” says the neonatologist.

Among the advantages, it favors The relationship and attachment between the two reduces the possibility of the baby suffering infections, not only from Covid-19 but also from other respiratory conditions as well as other alterations such as otitis and diarrhea. In the case of the mother, Sánchez Tamayo assures that breastfeeding contributes to a better recovery from childbirth.

Infection in infants

Neonatologists have also wanted to remember that newborns and infants who become infected with Covid-19 usually carry the disease, mostly, asymptomatic since the effects of the virus in these populations are “almost non-existent”.

“Most pass it without any symptoms. In fact, many of the cases that are known are because it is investigated as a result of the parents, but the baby passes it without anything, without even catching a cold,” says the vowel of Seneo. “The risk for a newborn or for a small infant is very low, much lower than at any other age. In this, children and especially younger children are privileged”.

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From 0 to 4 years, the incidence is close to 600 cases in 14 days

The 14-day cumulative incidence rate in children aged 0 to 4 in Malaga was close to 600 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, as of December 28. Despite the high figure, the effects of the virus in children are usually mild, so most end up making the virus negative without symptoms. From 5 to 11 years, the last group that has joined the immunization strategy, is above 1,200 cases, a rate similar to the adult population.

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