Can We Breastfeed Our Children in a Pandemic?

By Begoña Sevilla / for MLNews
 
The case of the baby in China infected with coronavirus a few hours after birth raised alarm at the possibility that an infected mother could have transmitted the virus in the womb to her son. A fact that, according to Gabriela Matute CNN reporter, “has not yet been proven.” The Spaniard doctor Belén Fernández, neonatologist at the Central University Hospital of Asturias, Spain, assures that “there is no clear evidence of vertical mother-child transmission (before, during or after childbirth due to breastfeeding) of the SARS-CoV- two.

If the infection occurred, it could have been caused by various factors such as the manipulation of the baby by the nurses or doctors, the time of hospitalization, the birth itself, the post-birth or even the mother’s cough.
 
Many experts warn that the limited knowledge of Covid-19 means that we do not know for sure if the virus can be transmitted from mother to son, as well as whether her breast milk could be infected.

So, we wonder, could a mother infected with the coronavirus breastfeed her child through breast milk?
The answer is yes, according to e-lactation, an association that promotes research around breastfeeding. They clarify that the mother must take a series of necessary preventive measures. Before breastfeeding, the mother should wash her hands carefully and put on a mask.
 
This opinion is also shared by the editor-in-chief of the magazine “Breastfeeding Medicine”, Arthur I. Eidelman, who urges mothers with the coronavirus not to interrupt breastfeeding, “as they may have already transmitted the infection to the baby.”


  
Breast milk is the best, but it is also immunity
 
According to the American Association of Pediatricians (www.aap.org), breast milk is the best food for baby because of its high nutritional content and prevents disease. Hence the daily intake is very important to transmit protective maternal antibodies to the baby.
 
In addition, the mother’s immune system produces antibodies to fight infection, and this protection against infection is transferred to the baby who is breastfed through breast milk.
 
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA (CDC) recommends keeping mother and child in separate rooms given the close relationship between the two. If the mother chooses to get milk previously, it is essential to wash her hands thoroughly to do it, as well as disinfect the pump.
 
Other voices
 
On the other hand, the measures released by the Spanish Neonatal Society (in its last revision) for the immediate postnatal period are different. They advise that “in children of mothers with SARS-CoV-2 infection, during the first 14 days, in light of the available data, it seems advisable not to breastfeed, although breast milk can be administered in a cup and / or with a clean spoon or by bottle, following the infection prevention measures at all times”. If you have any questions, please see your doctor.
 
Short and long- term benefits 
 
It has always been said that the natural is much better than the artificial and in this case, it applies. The American Association of Pediatricians recommends breastfeeding one hundred percent.

According to Joan Meek chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics section on breastfeeding, we have to keep in mind that we have a lot of long-term benefits breastfeeding. There is less risk of developing diseases such as obesity or diabetes.”
 
Breast milk is the best for babies. From a public health perspective we should support breast milk. 80% of babies born in our country start by feeding on breast milk, ”says Joan.
 
Multiple benefits
According to www.healthychildren.org and La Leche League (non-profit organization) breast milk has an ideal combination of nutrients including vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and meets the needs at different stages of development of the baby. As already mentioned, it provides antibodies from the mother, reduces respiratory diseases, prevents allergies, favors the development of the jaw, teeth and speech and better brain development.

Lory West, a member of the La Leche League in Nevada, says we know that breast milk has more than 400 nutrients when the formula is only 45.

The Leche League regularly organizes workshops for mothers and fathers to learn more about the benefits of breast milk. Lory concludes: “Breast milk is a living organism and the formula is something chemical that is created in a factory.”

Only 5% of mothers in the world cannot breastfeed their babies, they cannot produce their own milk. 

 

About Ramón Jiménez

Ramón Jiménez, Managing Editor de MetroLatinoUSA.Com (MLN). Graduado de la Escuela de Periodismo de la Universidad del Distrito de Columbia (UDC). Email: ramonjimenez169@gmail.com

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