LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) - New research at UC San Diego has found that breast milk does not spread the Coronavirus.
"I think it's safe to say that breast milk is safe, that donor milk is safe, and that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks," says Dr. Lars Bode, the Director of the UC San Diego Mommy’s Milk Human Milk Research Biorepository, which conducted the study. "We don't have any risks identified at this point."
A preliminary research letter, published in August in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found "No replication-competent virus was detectable in any sample."
The study analyzed multiple breast milk samples from women who had recently given birth and been infected with SARS-COVID-2, the disease that causes coronavirus. Among 64 samples from 18 different women, they found nothing that could transmit the virus.
The Center now has around 400 women enrolled in the study to ensure the results play out over extensive scale testing.
"Having the information and knowing what the risks are and what you might expect and being prepared for that, it certainly can help reduce anxieties related to having these types of infections," says Dr. Christina Chambers, a pediatrician at UC San Diego.
In addition to looking for virus transmission, the researchers are also looking into whether breast milk can transfer antibodies from mother to baby and help the child gain immunity without a vaccine.
"When mom gets infected, she produces the antibodies," says Dr. Bode. "It's not just in her plasma. It also gets handed over to the milk, and we've seen this for many other diseases as well. There's some act of protection to antibodies and other components in human milk that protect the infant directly."
Dr. Bode says they may be able to find a way to synthesize the compounds containing the antibodies so other adults can get their benefit without having to take breast milk away from infants.
UC San Diego's MotherToBaby Pregnancy Studies is also running a research project on Coronavirus's effects on pregnant women and babies still in the womb. Dr. Chambers is running that study, and says they hope to publish results sometime in the next year.
In the meantime, they're still looking for more women who would like to participate in either study. To sign up, go to BetterBeginnings.org/CovidStudies.