FAQ on COVID-19 transmission: babies & breast milk

Medela has gathered the latest recommendations to help answer questions for health care professionals and mothers about COVID-19, e.g. if babies can get COVID-19 or if the virus can be transmitted through breast milk.

mum holding five month old baby-looking into each other's eyes and smiling

Can COVID-19 be transmitted through breast milk? 

UNICEF, the WHO and the CDC report that from the limited studies on breastfeeding women with COVID-19 the active virus has not been detected in breast milk. Currently, the main concern is not whether the virus can be transmitted through breast milk, but rather that a mother infected with COVID-19 passes on the virus through respiratory droplets.

There are important steps to avoid spreading the virus to a baby including washing hands before holding the baby, and wearing a face mask when a mother is in close contact with her baby, including when breastfeeding.

Research has shown that mothers who have had COVID-19 pass on antibodies to their infant via their breast milk, further supporting the recommendation to continue breastfeeding

Can babies get COVID-19? 

According to the CDC it is very rare for newborn babies to get COVID-19. In some rare cases newborn babies have tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after birth. However, it is not known if they got the virus before, during, or after the birth.

Newborns who have COVID-19 tend to have mild symptoms or none at all and recover well. There has only been a few reports of newborns with severe COVID-19 illness.



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