Is it safe for a mother to breastfeed if she is infected with novel coronavirus?
All mothers in affected and at-risk areas with symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing, should seek medical care early, and follow instructions from a healthcare provider.
Considering the benefits of breastfeeding and the insignificant role of breastmilk in the transmission of other respiratory viruses, the mother could continue breastfeeding.
However, precautions should be taken as there is a risk of transmission from mother to infant through respiratory droplets and direct contact, as well as indirectly through contaminated surfaces. Wear a mask when feeding a child, wash hands before and after feedings, and clean/disinfect contaminated surfaces.
If a mother is too ill, she should be encouraged to express milk and give it to the child via a clean cup and/or spoon – all while following the same infection prevention methods.
What is UNICEF doing to help?
A UNICEF shipment of respiratory masks and protective suits for health workers landed in Shanghai, China, on 29 January to support China’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak. UNICEF will be sending more items in the coming days and weeks.
UNICEF is in close contact with the Chinese authorities, including the Ministry of Commerce and the National Health Commission, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other UN agencies to monitor developments and needs as the situation further unfolds.
UNICEF will also work with WHO and partners for a coordinated response in China and other affected countries, as well as to enhance preparedness in at-risk countries.
For more information on the novel coronavirus see the WHO website