Aug. 4 (UPI) -- The benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh risk of COVID-19 infection from it, which is negligible and has never been documented, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.
The advantages of mother's milk include lifesaving antibodies against many childhood illnesses, WHO said in a statement Tuesday.
New mothers should initiate "skin-to-skin contact" with their babies quickly as "the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus from a COVID-19 positive mother to her baby seem extremely low," Dr. Laurence Grummer-Strawn, of the World Health Organization's Food and Nutrition in Health Systems unit, said in the statement.
"WHO has been very clear in its recommendations to say absolutely breastfeeding should continue," Grummer-Strawn added. "We have never documented, anywhere in the world, any (COVID-19) transmission through breastmilk."
On Sunday, as part of a statement to kick off World Breastfeeding Week 2020 WHO had warned that not using mother's milk is linked to 820,000 child deaths a year, which costs the global economy $302 billion.
"Breastfeeding provides benefits during the time of breastfeeding, and those that are most recognized are protection against diarrhea, which is one of the top causes of mortality in low-income countries, protection against respiratory infections, against obesity -- childhood obesity later on -- as children get older, protection against leukemia," Grummer-Strawn said in a statement.
WHO recommends breastfeeding alone for babies for the first six months and continuing breastfeeding until at least age 2, along with other nutritious foods.