Children's Health

Respiratory antivirals and risk to breastfeeding women

Little data is available about the ability of antiviral drugs used to treat COVID-19, coronavirus, to enter breastmilk, let alone the potential adverse effects on breastfeeding infants. A new perspective article reviewing what is known about the most commonly used drugs to treat coronavirus and influenza is published in Breastfeeding Medicine, the official journal of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

Philip Anderson, PharmD, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of California, San Diego, is the author of “Breastfeeding and Respiratory Antivirals: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Influenza.” The short answer to questions regarding drug therapy for COVID-19 is that currently there is no antiviral agent proven to be effective against this new infection. However, one investigational drug so far, remdesivir, appears promising to treat COVID-19, and it is in phase 3 clinical trials in patients. Dr. Anderson notes: “Nothing is known about the passage of remdesivir into breastmilk.”

Arthur I. Eidelman, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Breastfeeding Medicine, states:

Given the reality that mothers infected with coronavirus have probably already colonized their nursing infant, continued breastfeeding has the potential of transmitting protective maternal antibodies to the infant via the breast milk. Thus, breastfeeding should be continued with the mother carefully practicing handwashing and wearing a mask while nursing, to minimize additional viral exposure to the infant.”

Journal reference:

Anderson, P.O., et al. (2020) Breastfeeding and Respiratory Antivirals: Coronavirus and Influenza. Breastfeeding Medicine.

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