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No evidence coronavirus can be transmitted through breast milk, says breastfeeding expert

No evidence coronavirus can be transmitted through breast milk, says breastfeeding expert
September 11
05:46 2020

Tolu Olufunlayo, a senior lecturer at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, says breastfeeding mothers may not have to worry about transmitting the coronavirus to their children.

Speaking on TheCable live interview with Oge Ekeanyawu, Olufunlayo, who is also an honorary consultant at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), said there is currently no evidence that virus can be transmitted from mother to child through breast milk.

“I’m sure you’ve heard that the Lagos University Teaching Hospital delivered several mothers during the lockdown period, and they did not find active viruses that could infect the baby in the milk,” she explained.

“So from all the data from around the world that we have so far, we do not see that there is a high risk of transmission from mother to baby either through the birth period or during breastfeeding.


“And this is why the World Health Organisation is telling us or advising that we should continue breastfeeding babies. The only thing we would say is that this is based on what we know now, we know a lot, but we are hoping that there would be nothing new found.

“So for now, please mothers breastfeed your babies.”

In the event where a breastfeeding mother has been confirmed as being positive, Olufunlayo advised that all the necessary precautions be taken although breastfeeding should not cease.


“The mother would have to use a face covering that covers her nose and her mouth, we would actually prefer in this case a medical mask to make sure that a lot of the secretions are being kept in.

“Of course hand hygiene would be very important. She would need to practice good hand hygiene, wash hands frequently with soap and running water or use a hand sanitizer, the recommended cough etiquette and distancing from other people. So when she is feeding her baby, when she is masked and she observes hand hygiene, the mother-baby pair should be fine.”

Speaking on the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in Nigeria, Olufunlayo said there has been an increase in the percentage of new mothers who have embraced exclusive breastfeeding.

According to the chair of the Lagos state chapter of the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding of children under six months was estimated at 29 percent in 2019; up from 19 percent in 2013.


“Increasing the exclusive breastfeeding rate would actually help us to meet the sustainable development goals and it would improve our economic development, we would spend less money on healthcare,” Olufundayo said.

“Increasing those rates optimally in Nigeria alone will result in at least saving the lives of 100,000 babies every year and about 1,000 mothers’ lives saved and not to talk of the huge amount of naira that would be saved from unnecessary visits to the healthcare centre.”


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