- The breast milk of infected mothers contains IgA, IgG and IgM antibodies, which are effective against SARS-CoV-2 proteins.
- For vaccinated women, the level of antibodies present in breast milk varies depending on the vaccine, and in the event of infection with the virus.
- In France, one in two women breastfeeds her child.
Breastfeeding and Covid-19 infection are compatible. Spanish scientists provide proof in a study published on June 14. In France, in March 2020, the French Society of Neonatology and the French Pediatric Society declared not to “contraindicate breastfeeding “ for women with the virus. This new study proves that there is no risk of transmission on the one hand, but that it could also have a protective effect.
A virus missing from samples
This work is part of an initiative called MilkCORONA, bringing together several Spanish universities, the objective of which is to study the impact of contamination of the mother on breast milk. This time, the scientists analyzed breast milk samples taken from women infected with the virus: none of them contained any trace of Covid-19. In contrast, mothers seem to transmit antibodies to their babies through their milk, as most samples contained them, in varying amounts. “These results clearly show the importance of recommending breastfeeding routinely in cases where the mother has few or no symptoms.“, underlines Dr Martínez Costa, one of the authors of the study. In France, the Academy of Medicine recommends to nursing mothers to apply some protective measures in the event of contamination: wearing of the mask during the feeding, washing of the hands before and after and nipple disinfection.
Transmission of vaccine benefits
In a second part, the study looked at women who received injections of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines. 75 breast milk samples were studied: all of them contained antibodies linked to Covid-19. Women who received a single dose, but who had already been infected with the virus, had a similar level of antibodies to those who received both doses of the vaccine.
What does breast milk provide?
Breastfeeding has many benefits aside from Covid-19. Different types of antibodies are transmitted between mother and child, through breast milk: this helps protect against microbes. Breastfed children are also less prone to diarrhea, colds and allergies, according to data from the National Health Nutrition Program. Over the months, the nutrients in breast milk change, so that it is always adapted to the needs of the child.