Govt's appeal to breastfeeding mothers who test positive for Covid-19

Does breast milk transmit Covid-19?

Image of a Kenyan mother breastfeeding her child (UNICEF Kenya)

The Ministry of Health on Thursday issued a statement to officially mark the world Breastfeeding Week amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

CAS Rashid Aman who addressed the press alongside UNICEF's Chief of Health Yaron Wolman appealed to breastfeeding mothers in Kenya not to deny their infants breast milk even when they test positive for the novel Coronavirus.

They further asked Covid-positive breastfeeding mothers to practice respiratory hygiene during breastfeeding to avoid transmitting the virus to their infants.

"Transmission of SARS/COVID to newborns is thought to occur primarily through respiratory droplets during the post-natal period when they are exposed to infected mothers or other caregivers," Dr Aman conveyed.

He emphasized that it is unlikely for a mother to transmit the Covid-19 infection to her child through breast milk.

"Health care workers must counsel mothers with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 illness on all the precautions to be taken to avoid transmitting the virus to their infants. The mother should be instructed to wash her hands using soap and water...or sanitizer...before touching the infant. Mothers should wear a face mask or a cloth face covering while breastfeeding. If expressing breast milk, the mother should wash her hands before touching the bottle or pump parts," the CAS elaborated.

He further noted that though information on transmission of the virus during pregnancy is scanty, research has shown minimal possibility of the vertical transmission.

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