Mom tests positive. What about baby?



New study suggests here is a strong link between mom and a healthy baby

moms, infants, breastfeeding, COVID-19

A new research review, just published in the Journal of Human Lactation, addresses how infants in several countries have been affected by COVID-19. Karleen Gribble, a professor of nursing and midwifery at Western Sydney University in Australia, articulated the findings to MedicalXpress.com, stating that COVID-19 in newborns is rare and usually asymptomatic. Studies show that breastfeeding, along with other contacts between mother and infant, do not increase the rate of infection. Even those babies that test positive for the virus experience only mild symptoms, and they recover rapidly.

In contrast, a plethora of studies have shown the damage to infants' physical and emotional health caused by separation from the mother at birth. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that even if a mother has tested positive for COVID, her newborn should be placed skin-to-skin with the mother after birth. Close contact should be maintained, and breastfeeding is still ideal. If the mothers wears a mask, washes her hands often, and sanitizes surfaces she has touched, it's unlikely the baby will become infected.

READ MORE: Silver linings of new parenthood during a pandemic

Although the WHO guidelines clearly emphasize the importance of mother-infant contact and breastfeeding, some governments, hospitals, and professional organizations have instituted standards that discourage physical contact to varying degrees. Some policies insist the mother's skin be cleansed before breastfeeding, which can make the process more difficult and problematic.

In addition to the deep bonding that takes place through skin-to-skin contact in the first weeks of life, infants receive immune-enhancing substances through breastmilk, pointed out Gribble. She added that mothers deprived of that early intimacy can have difficulty bonding with their children later on, resulting in inadequate care for the child.

“The physiology of mothers and infants are entwined with one another,” Gribble explained. “If this important process is interrupted, the implications for both mother and baby can be severe. If it is unavoidable that mothers and infants are separated from one another, hospitals must provide psychological support to both until and after reunion."



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