Study Finds Breast Milk When Pasteurized Inactivates SARS-CoV-2 Virus
It has been discovered by the researchers at the University of Toronto and Sinai Health that a common breast milk pasteurizing technique can inactivate the new coronavirus which causes COVID-19. The findings have provided assurance for those parents and families who use human milk banks to feed their infants, stating that it is safe for use. In fact, this may be the first report in the scientific literature about the impact of pasteurization on coronaviruses in human milk.
1Women are now advised to continue breastfeeding their infants
In Canada, it is standard care to provide pasteurized breast milk to very-low-birth-weight babies in hospitals. This is done until the milk supply of their mother is adequate. Women infected with COVID-19 have also been advised to continue breastfeeding their own infants.
2The study published last week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal
The authors of the study wrote: “In the event that a woman who is COVID-19-positive donates human milk that contains SARS-CoV-2, whether by transmission through the mammary gland or by contamination through respiratory droplets, skin, breast pumps and milk containers, this method of pasteurization renders milk safe for consumption”.
3Extra efforts are needed to protect the supply of pasteurized breast milk
Sharon Unger, a professor of pediatrics and nutritional sciences at U of T and neonatologist at Sinai Health, and also the medical director of the Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank is the lead author on the paper. Unger suggests that the current pandemic is the time for extra efforts to protect the supply of donated milk. The main reason for this is because the formula is scarce and the human milk bank supply faced major challenges from previous pandemics- HIV/AIDS.