New mothers affected with COVID-19 should usually continue breastfeeding and should not be separated from their babies, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Friday, stressing that the benefits exceeded the risks.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a virtual press conference that the UN health agency had completely examined the risks of women transmitting the new coronavirus to their babies when breastfeeding.
“We know that children are at relatively low-risk of COVID-19, but are at high risk of numerous other diseases and conditions that breastfeeding prevents,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“Based on the available evidence, WHO’s advice is that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of COVID-19,” he added.
Anshu Banerjee, the WHO’s senior advisor for reproductive health and research, said in the briefing that, so far, the live virus that causes COVID-19 had not been found in breast milk.
“Mothers with assumed or confirmed COVID-19 should be inspired to initiate and continue breastfeeding and not be separated from their infants, unless the mother is too unwell,” Tedros said.