Can breast milk transmit Covid-19 from a mother to her child? A new study in JAMA suggests it does not happen.
The study examined 64 samples of breast milk collected by the Mommy’s Milk Human Milk Research Biorepository from 18 women across the US infected with severe SARS-CoV-2.
Although one sample tested positive for viral RNA, subsequent tests found that the virus was unable to replicate, and thus unable to cause infection in the breastfed infant.
“Detection of viral RNA does not equate to infection. It has to grow and multiply in order to be infectious and we did not find that in any of our samples. Our findings suggest breast milk itself is not likely a source of infection for the infant,” Christina Chambers, co-principal investigator of the study, explained in a statement from University of California San Diego School of Medicine. She is the director of Mommy’s Milk Human Milk Research Biorepository.
The researchers also mimicked conditions of the Holder pasteurisation process commonly used in human donor milk banks by adding SARS-CoV-2 to breast milk samples from two different donors who were not infected. Following pasteurisation, infectious virus was not detected in either sample.