New mothers infected with COVID-19 should generally continue breastfeeding and should not be separated from their babies, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday, stressing that the benefits outweighed the risks.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference that the U.N. health agency had thoroughly investigated the risks of women transmitting the new coronavirus to their babies when breastfeeding.
"We know that children are at relatively low-risk of COVID-19, but are at high risk of numerous other diseases and conditions that breastfeeding prevents," he said.
"Based on the available evidence, WHO's advice is that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of COVID-19," he added.
Anshu Banerjee, the WHO's senior advisor for reproductive health and research, told the briefing that, so far, the live virus that causes COVID-19 had not been found in breast milk.
"Mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be encouraged to initiate and continue breastfeeding and not be separated from their infants, unless the mother is too unwell," Tedros said.