Research backing the importance of breast milk during COVID-19
Medela recently hosted a virtual roundtable during which 8 leading experts in breastfeeding, lactation, immunology and virology shared their learnings on the impact of COVID-19 on breastfeeding globally. The roundtable was hosted by Medela with participants Lars Bode, Riccardo Davanzo, Donna Geddes, Janis Müller, Hans van Goudoever, Rebecca Powell, Virginie Rigourd, Diane Spatz and Ann Yates sharing their expert observations, research and recommendations for supporting breastfeeding mums and clinicians during the pandemic.
- Research from Professor Lars Bode on breast milk from COVID-19 infected women indicated that “transmission from the mum to the infant via human milk is unlikely.” His research shows that breast milk is safe and still the best way to give babies the nutrients and immune boost they need to thrive.
- Janis Müller, PhD, noted that in his research on the topic, although they found viral RNA in breast milk, no replication-competent virus was found and that he knows of no publication confirming the presence of active virus in human milk.
- Assistant Professor Rebecca Powell’s research into the immune response in breast milk following recovery from COVID-19 has started to show that “the vast majority of mums have a strong antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 in their milk […] that could neutralise the virus.”
- New research from Dr. Johannes B v. Goudoever’s team at Amsterdam University confirms that the breastmilk of mothers who have recovered from COVID-19 contains significant IgA (viral antibodies) against SARS-Cov-2 both before and after pasteurisation.
This supports the findings of Asst. Prof. Rebecca Powell and reinforces the value and safety of mother’s milk as a high-impact, low-cost medical intervention for both healthy and vulnerable babies. The research team from Amsterdam UMC Universitair Medische Centra further suggests that breast milk could be used to protect high-risk groups, like residents in care facilities and front-line healthcare workers.
- Dr. Virginie Rigourd shared her experience with increased breast milk donations during the lockdown in France and her work ensuring vulnerable babies have access to human milk. Both her publication and that of Carina Conzelmann together with Janis Müller describe how SARS-CoV-2 can be inactivated using Holder pasteurisation (i.e. 62.5°C for 30 min).
Additional research and a white paper summary of this insightful roundtable will be shared in the future.