“I am fully vaccinated and have two children at home who aren’t eligible for the vaccine. I am currently breastfeeding my 3-month old and have seen a lot of posts on social media about mothers sneaking breastmilk into toddler’s meals to give them antibodies. This is something I think it’s worth trying.
Many parents are feeling desperation right this moment, according to my recent hearings. Those with children or children who are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine feel particularly anxious. Pfizer announced recently that it will seek Emergency Use Authorization from Food and Drug Administration to administer a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine to children six months to five. However, the outcome of this waiting game remains uncertain.
Many parents worry about their child’s safety and struggle to raise them. Parents are sharing their feelings of burnout after enduring frequent testing, being required to keep their children at home, out of childcare centers or school, and possibly missing work. It’s both physically and emotionally exhausting.
It is a fascinating question to ask whether breastfeeding moms should allow breast milk to be added to the toddler’s diet. The ingenuity of this woman is something I applaud. Although I don’t see any harm in this approach, I do not know of any scientific evidence that supports its effectiveness.
There is, however, data that show breastfeeding infants do receive COVID-19-neutralizing antibodies from breast milk. The Journal of American Medical Association JAMA Pediatrics (Journal of the American Medical Association), published a study that found breastfeeding infants with COVID-19-neutralizing antibodies, which included those who were infected and those who had the mRNA vaccine, produced breast milk containing active SARS-2 antibodies. This was well tolerated.
People may believe that this would work for their toddler. Not necessarily. This one is all about the details.
When the child is young, it is difficult to transfer antibodies through breast milk to a nursing baby. Although breast milk is likely to not cause harm for a small child, the microbiome and absorption characteristics of a nursing infant are different from those of a child under one. Toddlers also have more exposures so it is unlikely that breastmilk would have the same effect. There is no evidence that antibodies are protective in this situation.
As we wait to be vaccinated for the under-fives, we remain vulnerable. It’s vital that we continue to implement the best practices known to reduce the spread of SARS. These include proper-fitting masks and hand hygiene. Distancing is important as well as outdoor activities. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to fall prey to the inevitable virus fatigue we are all experiencing right now.
Dr. Christina Johns works as a senior medical advisor at PM Pediatrics, America’s largest pediatric urgent care center.