No ‘Evidence’ COVID-19 Is Transmitted Via Breastfeeding, Says WHO

This handout image provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 22, 2020 in Geneva shows WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attending the 147th session of the WHO Executive Board held virtually by videoconference, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus. Christopher Black / World Health Organization / AFP
This handout image provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 22, 2020 in Geneva shows WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attending the 147th session of the WHO Executive Board held virtually by videoconference, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus. Christopher Black / World Health Organization / AFP


The World Health Organization (WHO) has said there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted by breastfeeding even when a nursing mother has contracted the virus.

According to a statement by the health body on its website on Wednesday, nursing mothers are urged to continue breastfeeding their babies in spite of the pandemic.

It stressed that while researchers are testing breast milk from mothers with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, it is safer to breastfeed than to give infants formula milk.

“WHO and UNICEF encourage women to continue to breastfeed during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if they have confirmed or suspected COVID-19,” the statement said.

“While researchers continue to test breast milk from mothers with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, current evidence indicates that it is unlikely that COVID-19 would be transmitted through breastfeeding or by giving breast milk that has been expressed by a mother who is confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19.”

The body restated that “the numerous benefits of breastfeeding substantially outweigh the potential risks of illness associated with the virus.”

Global COVID-19 cases have now surged to nearly 5.7 million, with more than 354,000 deaths.

World Breastfeeding Week 2019 Gets Underway


World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other organizations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

This year, WHO is working with UNICEF and partners to promote the importance of family-friendly policies to enable breastfeeding and help parents nurture and bond with their children in early life, when it matters most. This includes enacting paid maternity leave for a minimum of 18 weeks, and paid paternity leave to encourage shared responsibility of caring for their children on an equal basis.

Mothers also need access to a parent friendly workplace to protect and support their ability to continue breastfeeding upon return to work by having access to breastfeeding breaks; a safe, private, and hygienic space for expressing and storing breastmilk; and affordable childcare.

Breastfeeding promotes better health for mothers and children alike. Increasing breastfeeding to near-universal levels could save more than 800 000 lives every year, the majority being children under 6 months.

Breastfeeding decreases the risk of mothers developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. It is estimated that increased breastfeeding could avert 20 000 maternal deaths each year due to breast cancer.

WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting within one hour after birth until a baby is 6 months old. Nutritious complementary foods should then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years or beyond.

Experts Harp On How Exclusive Breastfeeding Prevents Infant Diseases

breastfeeding in childrenHealth experts have raised concerns over the increase in the number of infants vulnerable to infectious diseases due to inadequate breastfeeding.

This emphasis was the focus of an awareness talk held at the Federal Medical Centre in Umuahia, the capital of Abia State, in southeast Nigeria.

According to the Head of Nursing Department in the hospital, Mr Nwanyieze Mba, breastfeeding awareness was apt, as investigation carried out at the antenatal ward showed that the number of malnourished and dehydrated infant had increased from zero per cent to eighty per cent.

A worrisome situation, which he said could be prevented.

In recent times, the need to improve maternal and child health care services has been emphasised.

This is why health experts on maternal and child care, dieticians, health workers amongst others are embarking on awareness programme to stress the need for the protection of the right of the child through healthy and adequate nutrition.

And these include breast milk which serve as a measure against Child malnutrition.

Nursing mothers are therefore advised to exclusively breastfeed their children from the day of the birth to six months 8-12 times a day without adding water or any supplement.

A pediatrician, Dr. Amara Okafor, pointed out that it has been noted that about 37 per cent of mothers were not feeding their babies with breast milk, a trend which must end if Nigerian women wanted a healthy baby and a healthy future.

According to the Head of Nursing Department at Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Nwanyieze Mba, the consequences of not adhering to exclusive breastfeeding were enormous and includes high risk of bacterial contaminations in infants as well as the babies’ immunity being very low and making them vulnerable to diseases.

A healthy baby is a healthy future.

The breastfeeding awareness campaign is thus the key to a sustainable development and the only way to protect the right of the child.

The highlight of the Breastfeeding awareness talk was the presentation of gift items to some well-fed babies whose mothers had adhered strictly to exclusive breastfeeding.

There are evidences that breast milk prevents respiratory tract infection, otitis media, ear infection in children, gastro-intestinal infections and can also help prevent breast cancer in women.

Health Minister Advocates Six Months Breastfeeding For Babies

Breastfeeding, Isaac Adewole,The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, has advocated for a six months maternity leave for working class mothers to encourage breastfeeding for babies in Nigeria.

The Health Minister made the proposal at a forum in Abuja where both international donor agencies and commissioners of health dialogued on how to promote breastfeeding in the country.

It was a high level policy meeting with government officials and international donor agencies.

According to the Minister, women who refuse to breastfeed their infants exclusively do not only have higher risk of cancer, but also expose them to diseases.

Some statistics presented at this event reveal that only 20% of women in Nigeria practice exclusive breastfeeding.

The representative of the World Health Organization, Mr Nigel Rollins, said that only 37% of mothers around the globe practice exclusive breastfeeding.

He said that Nigeria had become a driver of growing breast milk substitute industries to the detriment of their children.

Other experts identified the benefits of breastfeeding practice to both the infant and the mother.


Mimiko flags off maternal health week

The November 2012 Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Week has been flagged off in Ondo State by Governor Olusegun Mimiko.

The state governor though absent was represented by the first lady of Ondo state; Mrs. Olukemi Mimiko at the occasion in Akure the state capital.

She said the programme is meant to sensitize women so that they stay healthy by adhering to all the health practices, including routine immunisation of their babies.

Mrs .Mimiko was accompanied by the Health Commissioner; Dayo Adeyanju and present at the mother-child friendly programme were government officials, health workers, and representatives of partner agencies at the occasion.Pregnant women and nursing mothers were also present in their numbers at the premises of The Basic Health Centre, Ondo Road Akure ; the venue of the programme.

Speaking to Newsmen at the flag off, Mrs Mimiko said the maternal new-born, and child health week is organised to ensure safe delivery, routine child immunization, adequate breastfeeding so that the children could grow old and healthy.

She expressed gratitude to Governor Mimiko, officials of the ministry of Health and the Hospitals Management Board for giving women quality attention.

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dayo Adeyanju lamented that some children under age five still die of preventable diseases.

He noted that this calls for proper sensitization of the mothers and other caregivers on key health practices such as: immunisation, sleeping under insecticide treated mosquito nets, hand washing, deworming, breastfeeding and birth registration among others.

Insecticide treated mosquito nets were distributed freely to all the pregnant women and nursing mothers at the end of the programme.

Health officials on ground also used the opportunity to immunise the babies presented by their mothers.

Make nutrition part of the budget, Health Minister tells FG

The Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu has urged that the government that nutrition should be put in the budget line as part of their capital expenditures.

The minister, who pointed this out during the world breastfeeding week, called on Nigerians both in the private sectors to support mothers and care givers to achieve optimal practice in feeding infants and young children.

He said the support will be able to sustain our Millennium Development Goal(MDG) targets through this high-impact and low cost intervention.

Optimal breastfeeding includes exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of infant life, as recommended by the World Health Organization.

it is critical to prevent at least 13% of all child deaths—more than any other intervention to prevent deaths.
Continuing breastfeeding for up to two years, even when infants begin taking complementary foods, could also prevent an additional 6% of deaths.