COVID-POSITIVE mothers have been encouraged to continue breast-feeding their infants as scientific studies have proven the virus cannot be transmitted through breast milk.
During a virtual talk to commemorate World Breastfeeding Week, Dr Zweli Mkhize, the Minister of Health, said he could assure all mothers that the virus had not been found in breastmilk or milk expressed by mothers who were confirmed or suspected Covid-19 cases.
Mkhize said although the milk was safe, mothers were still expected to practise good respiratory hygiene such as sanitising, frequent washing of hands with soap and water, the wearing of masks and the cleaning and disinfecting of all surfaces.
He assured mothers who rely on donated breast milk that despite the challenges faced by the national health system, the National Breast Bank had been able to keep ample stock of breast milk throughout the pandemic.
“Donated breast milk is a critical resource in managing children who cannot breast-feed for various reasons but whose optimal treatment includes the administration of breast milk. The vast majority are premature babies who benefit enormously from the properties contained in breast milk,” Mkhize said.
Chifunilo Mulusa, client relations manager at the South African Breastmilk Reserve, a human milk banking organisation, said breast milk contained antibodies with a protein that allows a mother to pass immunity to her baby.
“We stand with Dr Mkhize’s statement and we want to encourage all moms to take the necessary precautions to ensure the virus is not passed on to their babies,” she said.
“A Covid-19 positive breast-feeding mother is giving her baby the best [nourishment].”
Mulusa said that the donated milk was mainly used to assist moms who give birth prematurely and are unable to express or breast-feed.
The organisation supplies Shelly Beach Hospital Neonatal ICU, Hibiscus Cato Ridge Private Hospital and Netcare Alberlito Hospital.
“I am aware that the Netcare group does have its own breast milk banks. Any mom who has their babies admitted into hospital can speak to the nursing staff or pediatricians to access donated breast milk.”
– Sunday tribune