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San Antonio's University Hospital Allows COVID-19 Positive Mothers to Breastfeed 

  • Pexels / Dominika Roseclay
Following new research, San Antonio's University Hospital has joined the number of medical facilities now allowing mothers that test positive for COVID-19 to breastfeed and have full contact with their newborns.

A recent study published by The Lancet found that the perinatal transmission of COVID-19 is unlikely to occur via breastfeeding or skin-to-skin contact, as long as hygiene protocols are implemented. Of the 116 mothers in the study that tested positive for COVID-19, none of their 120 newborns tested positive. Neither did any of the 82 newborns that were tested at five to seven days of life, or the 72 tested at 14 at days of life.

According to the CDC, little is known about the impact COVID-19 has on expecting mothers and their newborns. While some babies have tested positive for the virus shortly after birth, the source of transmission remains unclear.

Due to this uncertainty, University Hospital previously limited contact between COVID-19 positive mothers and their newborns. But these recent findings suggesting that breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact between mothers and newborns may be safe has been cause for University Hospital to do away with these limitations, the hospital said in a statement on its website.

In a statement to KSAT, Kate McLachlan, a lactation specialist for University Health System, explained "even for moms whose babies go up to the NICU, we're encouraging them [to breastfeed]. We provide them with a hospital grade breast pump and encourage them to pump their milk to be able to still provide breast milk to the baby."

University Hospital's recent change in protocol, while prompted by new data, is also a result of the documented benefits to feeding newborns breastmilk as well as the increasingly limited access to baby formula for some parents during the pandemic.

Despite recent changes, infected mothers still undergo standard coronavirus safety protocols: washing their hands and skin, wearing masks and practicing social distancing unless feeding or practicing skin-to-skin contact. All incoming patients of the University Healthcare System are tested for COVID-19, including expectant mothers.

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