In the largest study to date on COVID-19 and breast milk, a UCLA-led research team found no evidence that the virus is transmitted from mothers to children through breastfeeding.
The study, published today in the journal Pediatric Research, analyzed breast milk samples taken from 110 lactating women between March and September 2020. Of these women, 65 had tested positive for COVID-19, 36 were symptomatic but were not tested and nine had symptoms but tested negative.
While researchers initially found some COVID-19 genetic material, or RNA, in seven of the samples belonging to the 101 women who either tested positive or were symptomatic but untested, a second breast milk sample taken from these women between one and 97 days later found no viral RNA.
Most importantly, the team found no clinical evidence of infection in the infants who were breastfed by these seven mothers.
The study “suggests breastfeeding is not likely to be a hazard,” said lead study author Dr. Paul Krogstad, a pediatric infectious disease researcher at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.