New Delhi | Jagran Lifestyle Desk: COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to the healthcare system. One of the biggest concerns to have emerged over the last few months is, whether a COVID-19 infected mother can breastfeed her infant. It is well documented that breast milk plays an important role in preventing life-threatening infections and boosts the immunity of the infant. Doctors advise that initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth gives them the best chance to thrive and develop to their full potential.

What government says

The Women and Child Development Ministry has, however, put an end to all such concerns. On Wednesdat, the ministry instructed all field functionaries and healthcare providers to reassure mothers to initiate and continue to breastfeed their infants as per guidelines even if they have tested positive for COVID-19.

 Noting that breastfeeding helps to protect a baby even if the mother is infected with coronavirus, the WCD ministry said the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare must be followed by those who are suspected or confirmed to have infected with the coronavirus.

 

Reassuring mothers, the WCD ministry said the coronavirus has not been found in amniotic fluid or breast milk which means that the virus is not being transmitted during pregnancy or through breast milk.

 

What WHO says

The WHO on Tuesday also said the risk of COVID-19 infection from breastfeeding is negligible and has never been documented, calling for greater support for the practice.

The appeal, during World Breastfeeding Week, comes as WHO warned that not using mother’s milk is linked to 820,000 child deaths a year, at a cost to the global economy of $300 billion.

“WHO has been very clear in its recommendations to say absolutely breastfeeding should continue,” said Dr. Laurence Grummer-Strawn, head of the World Health Organization’s Food and Nutrition Action in Health Systems unit. “We have never documented, anywhere around the world, any (COVID-19) transmission through breastmilk.”

The comments came made during World Breastfeeding Week which is observed every year from August 1 to 7.

(with agency inputs)

Posted By: Rakesh Kumar Jha