UPDATE from Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health, 10 March 2021
All publications provide emerging evidence related to COVID-19 and
- Breastfeeding and breast milk (including viral transmission and vaccination issues)
- Infant feeding recommendations
- Feeding difficulties in newborns
While there were several recent reviews of international literature, this update also adds emerging evidence from the United States, China, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Sweden, Italy, Israel, Morocco, India, and Vietnam.
Several articles discuss contradictory information that mothers receive regarding the safety of COVID-19 vaccination while breastfeeding. Some express concern that many breastfeeding women may either be excluded from COVID-19 vaccination, choose to stop breastfeeding, or choose not to disclose their breastfeeding status, thus missing the opportunity to have their progress recorded.
Four studies published in the last two weeks detected the transfer of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in breast milk after mothers received an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. Researchers examined types of antibodies present, neutralizing activity, and timing of their presence after the first and second vaccine doses. Some researchers concluded that the immune response seen in breast milk samples post-vaccination was more robust than the immune response after natural SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Other publications discuss the consequences of separating newborns from their mothers. A case series of 70 neonates born to women with SARS-CoV-2 infection across 16 US hospitals examined how many neonates were separated from their mothers, the reasons for separation, and how the infants were fed during separation. The authors note that many hospital practices and policies were inconsistent with infant feeding recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatricians and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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