Analysis of Shedding of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in Breast Milk: Is There Risk to Newborns?

breast milk in bottle and plastic bag

Pregnant women admitted to labor and delivery suites are often asymptomatic at the time of admission. Therefore the risk to newborns for viral transmission and infection remains uncertain.

Led by Erin Osterholm, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, this study will assess break milk samples of COVID-19 women to determine if viral RNA is present and determine if infection is transmitted to infants fed COVID-19 positive breast milk.

“The hypothesized ability to demonstrate transmission of virus from breast milk to infants will inform real-time decision making for neonatologists and physicians caring for newborn infants who need to make real-time operational decisions about breast-feeding,” said Osterholm.

This project is supported by the UMN Campus Public Health Officer's CO:VID (Collaborative Outcomes: Visionary Innovation & Discovery) grants program, which support University of Minnesota faculty to catalyze and energize small-scale research projects designed to address and mitigate the COVID-19 virus and its associated risks.