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Golisano Children's Hospital / Breastfeeding & Lactation Medicine / Coronavirus Important Information

Coronavirus Information

COVID-19 Infection & Breastfeeding

All healthcare organizations recommend breastfeeding as it results in significant benefits for lactating parents and their infants. Lactating parents with COVID-19 symptoms or a diagnosis should continue to breastfeed while taking precautions such as hand washing and wearing a mask. Stable lactating parents should not be separated from their well infants at birth if they have COVID-19 symptoms or a diagnosis. Please visit the CDC for full guidelines.

Are COVID-19 Vaccinations Safe During Breastfeeding or Lactating?

Based upon the information that we have, we believe the vaccines are safe for use during breastfeeding. This is because no live viruses are contained in the vaccines. (The only two vaccines that are contraindicated for use during breastfeeding have live virus: Smallpox and Yellow Fever.) Indeed, multiple studies have found that COVID-19 specific antibodies pass in human milk, which are likely to protect children who receive their parents’ milk.
The vaccines use the mRNA-1273 of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which are a minuscule part of the virus and cause the body to generate antibodies to protect against infection. One study has shown that no mRNA passed in the expressed milk of 7 mothers who pumped 4 to 48h after vaccination (Evaluation of Messenger RNA From COVID-19 BTN162b2 and mRNA-1273 Vaccines in Human Milk). If any mRNA were to pass in breastmilk, it would likely be degraded in the baby’s stomach. Vaccinated parents pass antibodies in their milk and last at least 3 months. These likely protect breastfed/chestfed children from infection. Local studies at the University of Rochester have found that these antibodies are both specific to COVID-19 and actively destroy the SARS-CoV-2 virus in milk from infected as well as vaccinated patients. No published studies to date have looked at the children’s immune response after ingesting this milk.

Our guidance is in line with all major healthcare organizations. Please check the CDC and FDA websites for updates. Specifically, see Vaccination of pregnant or lactating people for CDC guidance. You can also see Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine statement on considerations for COVID-19 vaccination in lactation.

Kate Ocon with Her DaughterCOVID Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding: What You Need to Know

When Kate Ocon found out she was pregnant in November 2020, she thought about the COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon — and she thought she wouldn’t get one. A lot has changed in the few months since then.

Read the full article in the URMC Newsroom.


Two recently released studies showed that few breastfed children had vaccine effects as a result of maternal vaccination. In one study of 180 women, Bertrand et al reported that more women had a temporary decrease in milk supply following the 2nd dose of Moderna vaccine as compared with mothers who received the Pfizer vaccine. In all cases, milk supply normalized within 72 hours. The most common effects in breastfed children were irritability, poor sleep and drowsiness.

In another study of 4,455 breastfeeding mothers, 1.7% of women reported a negative impact on breastfeeding and 7.1% reported any symptoms in their breastfed child following maternal vaccination. Mothers reporting symptoms in their children were more likely to have symptoms themselves.