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Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs for Parents & Babies

Coronavirus and pregnancy

Getting COVID-19 while pregnant: can it be passed on to unborn children?

At this time, there is not enough evidence to determine whether the virus is transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, or the potential impact this may have on the baby. This is currently being investigated. Pregnant women should continue to follow appropriate precautions to protect themselves from exposure to the virus, and seek medical care early, if experiencing symptoms, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

Please consult your healthcare professional in case of any questions or concerns.

Coronavirus and breastfeeding

Coronavirus and Breastfeeding: is it safe to breastfeed if I have Coronavirus?

All mothers who have symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing, should seek medical care early, and follow instructions from a health care provider.

Considering the benefits of breastfeeding and the insignificant role of breastmilk in the transmission of other respiratory viruses, the mother can continue breastfeeding, while applying all the necessary precautions, subject to medical advice.

For symptomatic mothers well enough to breastfeed, this includes wearing a mask when near a child (including during feeding), washing hands before and after contact with the child (including feeding), and cleaning/disinfecting contaminated surfaces –as should be done in all cases where anyone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 interacts with others, including children.

If a mother is too ill, she should be encouraged to express milk and give it to the child via a clean cup and/or spoon –all while following the same infection prevention methods, subject to medical advice.

If you have any further questions, contact your doctor.

Coronavirus and babies between 0-6 months

What should I do if my baby has symptoms of COVID-19?

Seek medical attention as early as you can.

Does COVID-19 affect babies?

This is a new virus and the World Health Organization does not know enough yet about how it affects babies or pregnant women. What they do know is that it’s possible for people of any age to be infected with the virus, but so far there have been relatively few cases of COVID-19 reported among children and none in babies. The virus is fatal in rare cases, so far mainly among older people with pre-existing medical conditions. If you have any further questions, contact your doctor.

Can a baby wear a mask to go outside?

As masks have certain airtightness, they may be uncomfortable for your little one under 1 year old. Therefore, to limit risks, you can follow the different recommendations from the World Health Organization to help protect you and your baby from COVID-19. And to be really safe, you should limit exposure of your child as much as possible to crowds.

If you have any further questions, contact your doctor.

Coronavirus and babies between 6-12 months

What should I do if my baby has symptoms of COVID-19?

Seek medical attention as early as you can.

Does COVID-19 affect infants?

This is a new virus and not enough is known yet about how it affects babies or pregnant women. It is possible for people of any age to be infected with the virus, but so far there have been relatively few cases of COVID-19 reported among children and none in babies. The virus is fatal in rare cases, so far mainly among older people with pre-existing medical conditions. If you have any further questions, contact your doctor.

Bottle-feeding and infant formula

How should milk powder’s utensils be disinfected?

The bottles, nipples, scoops and bowls used by the baby must be disinfected; please clean them with clean water firstly, and then the appliances resistant to high temperature should be immersed in the pot and boiled for more than 30 minutes. The appliances not resistant to high temperature can be disinfected by wiping the surface with alcohol cotton. If you have any further questions, contact your doctor.

What if my child is stressed about Coronavirus?

Children may respond to stress in different ways such as being more clingy, anxious, withdrawing, angry or agitated, bedwetting etc. Respond to your child’s reactions in a supportive way, listen to their concerns and give them extra love and attention. 

If you have any concern for the mental health of your little one, you should consult with your healthcare professional.

For more information visit: 
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

Feeding my preterm baby during COVID-19

Should I still breast feed my preterm infant during the COVID-19 outbreak?

If you have symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing, you should seek medical care early and follow instructions from your health care professional. 

UNICEF suggests that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks. Breast milk is particularly beneficial for a preterm baby as it helps their immune system develop and can help protect them from infections. UNICEF recommends that breastfeeding be supported wherever possible while following necessary precautions. These include washing your hands before touching your baby, routinely disinfecting surfaces, cleaning and disinfecting feeding equipment. See our article on feeding and COVID-19 for more information.

If you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 speak with your healthcare professional to discuss the most appropriate way to feed your baby. This may include additional precautions such as wearing a mask during feeding. If you can’t breastfeed, you may be able to consider expressing milk or using donor milk where available. Speak with your health care professional for more information. 

Can my preterm baby catch COVID-19 from breastfeeding?

There is no evidence presently that coronavirus can be transmitted through breast milk. However, your baby can still contract the virus if it is exposed to respiratory droplets of an infected individual. It is important to follow COVID-19 preventative measures to avoid putting your baby at risk. The following section gives advice from UNICEF and Public Health England on protecting your baby during feeding.  For more advice speak with your health care professional.

How can I protect my preterm baby while feeding during the COVID-19 outbreak?

  • Wash your hands before touching your baby or any feeding equipment.
  • Clean and sterilise breast milk pumps and feeding equipment thoroughly.
  • Routinely clean and disinfect all surfaces.
  • If you are feeding your baby formula, make sure you sterilise all bottles and teats before each use. You should not share bottles with anyone else. When making formula feeds, carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions. 
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been diagnosed with the virus your healthcare professional may advise additional measures such as wearing a mask during feeding.

For advice contact your healthcare professional

How can I feed my preterm baby if I am not allowed into Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) due to COVID-19?

Speak with your baby’s health care team at the NICU about what options might be suitable, including expressing breast milk or the use of donor milk if appropriate. 

What should I do if my preterm baby has symptoms of COVID-19?

If you have any concerns regarding the health of your baby contact your health care professional for advice.

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