Purpose of review: Breastfeeding is beneficial to both the newborn and the mother. During the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns have been raised on whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus could be transmitted from COVID-19 positive mother to the newborn through breastmilk. The purpose of this review is to examine the available evidence on the risks of transmission of infection from COVID-19 mothers to their newborns through breastfeeding.
Recent findings: Data is very limited in this regard, with only a few smaller case series, and case reports have been published so far. In most of the studies, breastmilk samples from COVID-19 mothers tested negative for the virus. In the case reports where the virus was detected in breastmilk and the infants were diagnosed with COVID-19, it remained unclear whether the disease was transmitted through breastmilk or direct contact or through delivery. Another hypothesis is that the viral antibodies could pass to the newborn passively through breastmilk of COVID-19 positive mothers and give immunity to the child, but data is minimal. Based on the currently available limited evidence and recognizing the benefits of breastfeeding, it may be concluded that if the health of the mother and her newborn allows, direct breastfeeding or extracted breastmilk should be encouraged by the healthcare providers after a careful discussion of the risks of vertical transmission to the mother and her family. Preventive measures should be taken by COVID-19 mothers to prevent droplet transmission of infection to the infants while breastfeeding.