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Investigation of SARS‐CoV‐2 RNA in Milk Produced by Women with COVID‐19 …

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Kilic, T, Kilic, S, Berber, NK, Gunduz, A, Ersoy, Y. Investigation of SARS‐CoV‐2 RNA in milk produced by women with COVID‐19 and follow‐up of their infants: A preliminary study. Int J Clin Pract. 2021; 00:e14175. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijcp.14175.

Studies have shown that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2) is primarily transmitted from person to person via airborne droplets. It is unclear whether it can be shed into human milk and transmitted to a child via breastfeeding. We investigated the presence of SARS‐CoV‐2 RNA in human milk samples of 15 mothers with coronavirus disease 19 (COVID‐19) and in the throat swab samples of their infants.

This is a prospective observational study in which breast milk samples were collected from 15 mothers with COVID‐19. The presence of SARS‐CoV‐2 RNA in the whole human milk samples of the patients was investigated using RT‐qPCR. All of the infants underwent a clinical follow‐up during their 14‐day isolation and their throat swab samples were tested for SARS‐CoV‐2 RNA.

Of 15 mothers with COVID‐19, SARS‐CoV‐2 RNA was detected in milk samples from 4 mothers. The throat swab samples from these mothers’ infants were found to be positive for SARS‐CoV‐2 RNA. Three of the four mothers were breastfeeding. In addition, during the 14‐day isolation, all but three of the mothers breastfed their infants. Of the 12 breastfed infants, while the test for SARS‐CoV‐2 RNA in throat swab samples was negative in 6 of the infants, the other 6 infants, who had mild COVID‐19 symptoms, tested positive for SARS‐CoV‐2 RNA. Clinical outcomes of all mothers and infants were uneventful.

To our knowledge, this is the first case series with the largest number of cases with SARS‐CoV‐2 RNA positivity in human milk samples of mothers with COVID‐19. However, we believe that the benefits of breastfeeding may outweigh the risk of SARS‐CoV‐2 infection in infants.

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