Breastfeeding and Influenza

Posted by: Leslie Cree Tags: There is no tags | Categories: Uncategorized


According to the CDC, a mother infected with the flu should temporarily avoid direct contact with her infant, although, it is not necessary or recommended to discontinue providing breastmilk.

The flu virus is not passed through breastmilk, therefore it is recommended that the mother express breastmilk so it can be fed to her infant by a healthy caregiver. Since the flu is passed from person to person by coughing, sneezing, or talking, doctors may recommend no touch contact with the infant until antiviral treatment, such as Tamiflu®, has been given for 48 hours, the mother is fever-free for 24 hours, and is able to control coughing and respiratory secretions.

Precautions to prevent spread of the flu from mother to infant include washing hands well with soap and water before expressing breastmilk, wearing disposable gloves and a face mask while pumping or handling the breastmilk, and using the CDC guidelines How to Keep Your Breast Pump Kit Clean. 

Antiviral medication is usually safe for breastfeeding mothers, as it is poorly excreted into the milk. Breastmilk continues to provide antibodies to illness, hydration, and remains the best nutritional source of food for the infant.

Excerpt from CDC : “Sick mothers should be encouraged to express their milk for healthy caregivers to feed to their newborns. The influenza virus is spread from person-to-person via respiratory droplets or touching. Thus, when breastfeeding mothers touch or are in close proximity to their newborns, they can transmit influenza virus to their newborns, who are at increased risk of severe complications from influenza….Breast milk remains the best source of nutrition for the infant, providing protection through antibodies and other immunological factors. As such, mothers who are separated from their infants should be encouraged to regularly express their breast milk during this separation to provide milk for the infant and to maintain their milk supply.”

Leslie Cree, BA IBCLC & Lisa McCloskey, RN IBCLC

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