People waiting for their vaccine doses at a centre in Mumbai. (PTI)
People waiting for their vaccine doses at a centre in Mumbai. (PTI)

Can Covid positive mothers breastfeed child? Doctors answer

Do not consult 'Dr Google', do not forward Covid-19 prescription to others as every case is different, doctors advised.
By | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
PUBLISHED ON APR 30, 2021 10:00 PM IST

New mothers who have tested positive for Covid-19 can breastfeed their child as there is no evidence so far that the infection can spread through mothers' milk, but some precautions have to be followed, doctors said on Friday. The Press Information Bureau organised a webinar where doctors busted several myths regarding the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). Dr Nitin Yashas, senior resident, Medical Oncology at Manipal Hospital, Bangalore, said lactating mothers, should wear a mask while breastfeeding so that the virus can not be transmitted through the regular route of respiratory droplets. An N-95 mask, a face shield has been advised for lactating mothers as it's not advisable to put masks (covering the nose) on the child.

"It is not advisable to use a mask on newborns unless they are of at least two years of age. That can lead to other paediatric or respiratory problems," Dr Rahul Kulkarni, MD and intensivist at Sahyadri Hospital in Pune said.

With the advent of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, people are quickly believing in WhatApp forwards and social media rumours. Through doctors, the Centre is cautioning people to not fall for unscientific claims. In his last Mann ki Baat too, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised trusting only verified sources of information.

Does drinking warm water prevent Covid-19?

Dr Yashas said warm water brings a placebo effect that it is relieving the symptoms, but scientifically it does not kill coronavirus. "In laboratory settings, you need a temperature of 60-75 degree Celsius to kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Now, the human body temperature is around 37 degree Celsius. These viruses remain within body cells and the human body maintains a temperature of around 37 degree Celsius," he said adding that the core temperature does not change while taking a hot water bath or while drinking warm water.

Can Covid-19 be transmitted from pregnant mother to child?

"Even if it happens, it is very difficult to assess whether it is vertical transmission from or the baby acquired infection from somewhere else. The rate of infection in pregnancy has gone to the higher side in the last 15 months, like in every other patient. 93-95% of these patients are mild cases. No need to panic about it. But, if the patient is at risk, that is have some immuno-compromises (like hypertension, diabetes etc) or in the higher side of age (40 and above), then they may land up in some sort of complications, mostly from Covid Pneumonia," Dr Kulkarni said.

Does taking antibiotics help?

Dr Chaitanya H Balakrishnan, the Covid coordinator at St John’s Medical College Hospital, Bangalore, said giving antibiotics as a preventive measure has no role. "A couple of studies in the UK and also Delhi has shown that injudicious use of antibiotics may rather increase the hospital stay or cause mortality in such patients. So, the tendency to take an over-the-counter azithromycin is completely unadvisable. If you are suspecting that you have symptoms of COVID, get tested, meet a COVID Care physician and take the appropriate step. Use of antibiotics in COVID-19 is completely avoidable. Taking an over-the-counter or Dr Google prescribed antibiotic is a complete no-no in COVID cases," he said,

Dr Kulkarni said patients should not forward their prescription to others as every case is different.

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