Could a Mother’s Milk Help Fight Coronavirus?
No doubt, mother’s milk is best for the baby as it provides all the essential nutrients to the baby. That too in the right proportion. Hence, your baby would be healthy.
But as we all know, this pandemic changed everything, isn’t it? To be noted, pregnant women are part of a vulnerable group. Therefore, need more care and attention, definitely, you need to follow the precautions to keep you and baby safe.
I’m sure you have an abundance of questions in your head about you, pregnancy, and your baby. And trust me that’s all right you do not have to panic.
As you can read everything in our article: How COVID-19 is affecting pregnancy?
According to a recent report published by SCMP. The studies by some Chinese Researchers found that breastmilk can help in killing the COVID-19 virus. On the other hand, some health authorities forewarn that breastmilk could proliferate the virus.
Hence, you can see the contrast. Well if you look at the World Health Organization’s recommendation, you are allowed to feed your baby.
Before actually getting into the topic, let’s discuss the importance of mother’s milk for baby’s development.
Importance of Breastmilk for Baby
- Reduce the possibility of the baby getting ill such as atopic disease, middle ears infection, respiratory infection, prevent some childhood cancer, prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, etc
- Improve the bonding of baby and mother
- Protect and develop the baby’s immature immune system
- Easy to digest
- Perfect for baby’s development and growth
Therefore, if you look at this, breastmilk is really beneficial. However, if you are not comfortable with feeding the baby through breast directly due to any reason, you can use a manual breast pump and electric breast pumps.
To be noted, before switching to breast pumps and formula milk always consult the same with the doctor.
Finally, from a study conducted by the Chinese Scientist, your breastmilk can treat or conserve your baby from COVID-19.
What Study Finds?
To be specific, in Beijing the breastmilk on cells exposed to the Sars-CoV-2 virus. The sample of the breastmilk was collected before the start of the pandemic which is in 2017. To be noted, the type of cell was diverse depending on the animal kidney cell to young human lungs and gut cells.
And the results were phenomenal, which is that the milk had killed the lion’s share of virus strains.
If you are wondering, how it worked, then it is easy. Breastmilk blocked the viral attachment, entry, and post-entry replication of the virus. Professor Tong Yigang from Beijing University of Chemical Technology found this. He wrote about it in his two non-peer-reviewed papers which he posted on biorxiv.org on Friday.
Furthermore, earlier the breastmilk has seen as enhancing the risk of viral transmission.
What to believe then? Can you rely on this new study? How relevant it is?
There are many questions piling up, isn’t it? Let’s have a look at whether the study is relevant or not?
If we go according to Chinese media reports from February, in Wuhan (the place where the COVID-19 Virus discovered for the first time) the newborn babies and their mothers who were tested positive for COVID-19 were split up. Additionally, the babies were fed exclusively with formula.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control, breastfeeding babies could be suspected or confirmed to transfer the virus.
Well, if you look at the latest study, then it holds the same consent as the World Health Organization regarding mothers breastfeeding the baby, even if the mother is COVID-19 positive.
Study Conducted By Global Health Body on Mother’s Milk
Through June, it has noticed by Global Health Body that 46 COVID-19 positive mothers breastfeeding their kids. Further, even 3 mothers have viral genes in their milk however, there was no evince of infection. But a baby was tested positive and the transmission through other means can not be ostracized.
Back to the study done by Tong and his colleagues. Later on, some healthy cells and breastmilk were mixed. Then the cells were exposed to the virus by washing off milk.
And what they have noticed is that there was nearly no cue of viral binding or entry to the cells as well as the treatment cease the replication of viral in the already infected cell.
At last, they concluded that the baby can be impeded with breastmilk which has a suppressive effect on virus-like HIV, and bacteria.
Thus, it is suspected that COVID-19 is sensitive to a few well-known antiviral proteins which are present in milk like lactoferrin. Though, none of the protein work in an expected way. Rather, Tong and his team said that most components such as whey inhibit the virus. Because it contains sundry proteins.
On the basis of a study conducted by Tong, the milk of cow and goat contains whey, which suppresses the living viral strains by 70%. If compared the same with human whey, it works around 100%.
Moreover, human milk can eradicate the virus in a wide range of cell types. Though the reason for the difference is still indistinct.
Later, Tong and colleagues said that they had to find any cue of harm which is caused by breastmilk. That encourages the escalation of the cell while killing the virus.
To conclude, some parents use donated milk to feed the baby. That was pasteurized to eradicate possible contamination. Chinese team found that heating the milk at the temperature of 90 degrees for 10 minutes deactivates the whey protein. Hence, the protection rate from COVID-19 also reduces to 20%.
And at last, they said, “It is worth identifying the key factors for further antiviral drug development.”
Thus, the study is still going on. To be on a positive side, I recommend you to take all the precautions and ask for doctors’ advice before doing anything.