Breast milk is often called liquid gold because of its benefits to babies, and a new study points to evidence that it could also help infants in the fight against COVID-19.
Dr. Shanna Combs, an assistant professor and OB/GYN clerkship director at Texas Christian University and the UNT Health Science Center School of Medicine, has been following the research from Cincinnati Children's Medical Center.
“Everything that comes out, I wait with bated breath, like what’s the next thing that we can figure out to best fight this virus,” Combs said.
Healthcare officials have been closely following the use of treatments such as convalescent plasma, which uses blood donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19 to help patients.
“Now they’re looking to see if breast milk is another option to gain those antibodies, especially when we talk about the vaccine," Combs said. "We don’t vaccinate young children because it hasn’t been studied in them yet. Whereas maybe antibodies from breastmilk might be an option for treatment for the newborn babies."
Combs encourages new mothers who have contracted COVID-19 to keep breastfeeding their baby and to keep wearing a mask.
“We know that COVID-19 is mainly transported through respiratory droplets, so that’s why wearing a mask is most beneficial, so long as mom is healthy enough that she can wear a mask and not have any breathing issues,” she said.
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For babies born premature or who can’t breast-feed directly, Combs said to go ahead and pump. Breastmilk can be frozen and stored, and still has benefits even if it’s given through a bottle.
She also advised against sharing breast milk. Instead, Combs suggested donating it to milk banks, where it can be processed first to make sure there’s no infection.