There is currently no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 virus can transfer into breast milk. There is evidence that maternal antibodies generated in response to COVID-19 virus do pass into breast milk.
Public Health England recommend that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of the virus through breast milk or by being in close contact. This is also supported by the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative.
The following precautions can be taken to reduce the risk of the infant becoming infected through close contact:
- wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before touching the infant or any expressing equipment
- avoid coughing or sneezing on the infant while breastfeeding
- Consider wearing a face mask whilst breastfeeding
- if you use a breast pump, clean it as recommended by the manufacturer after each use.
Public Health England. COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection (updated 29th Sept 2021) [cited 27/09/21].
Pace RM, Williams JE, Järvinen KM et al. Characterization of SARS-CoV-2 RNA, Antibodies, and Neutralizing Capacity in Milk produced by Women with COVID-19. Clinical Science and Epidemiology 2021; 12 (1): e03192–20.
UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative. Statement on Infant Feeding during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Updated 20 April 2021[cited 27/09/21].