WHO is Advising Mothers to Continue Breastfeeding Their Babies Even During Covid-19 Pandemic
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UNICEF has advised women to continue to breastfeed their babies amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, despite false news and misinformation regarding the same.
A report by the WHO suggests that breast milk has antibodies which could strengthen babies' immunity systems and protect them from ailments in the long run. Therefore, aggressive marketing strategies promoting breast milk substitutes must be regulated, according to WHO and UNICEF.
The WHO and the UNICEF also encourage women to continue breast feeding their babies even if they have tested positive for Covid-19. Although researchers are studying whether the virus can be transmitted through breast milk, it seems unlikely. Moreover, the benefits of breast milk outweigh the dangers associated with the virus and giving an infant formula milk is not advisable under any circumstances.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, health workers are being diverted to the response and health systems are overstretched. At such time, breastfeeding can protect the lives of millions of children, but new mothers cannot do it without the support of health providers,” said Dr. Victor Aguayo, UNICEF’s Chief of Nutrition.
Data by the WHO shows that kids who are breastfed as infants are 14 times less likely to die as compared to those who aren't. As of now, 41% kids are breastfed exclusively up to six months.
But breastfeeding has come under scrutiny in light of the pandemic.
“The fear of COVID-19 transmission is eclipsing the importance of breastfeeding – and in too many countries mothers and babies are being separated at birth – making breastfeeding and skin to skin contact difficult if not impossible. All on the basis of no evidence,” says Patti Rundall, of IBFAN (International Baby Food Action Network).
The WHO says that active virus has not been detected in breast milk till date, which means mothers, even those infected with coronavirus, can continue breast feeding their children. However, a few precautions must be followed. For instance, the lactating mothers are advised to wash hands and use alcohol based sanitisers before touching the baby. Similarly, masks and routine disinfection of surfaces the infant comes into contact with are also recommended.