OBJECTIVES: To assess infection rates predischarge and postdischarge in breast milk–fed newborns with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)–positive mothers who were separated postdelivery from their mothers and discharged from the hospital. Also, we aim to evaluate breastfeeding rates predischarge and postdischarge.
METHODS: Nasopharyngeal swabs for SARS-CoV-2 were obtained from symptomatic and high-risk women in the delivery room. Mothers with positive SARS-CoV-2 test results were separated from the newborns. Newborns were screened within 48 hours of delivery, and anti-infectious guidelines were imparted to the mothers before discharge. Rescreening took place ≥14 days postdischarge. Data regarding SARS-CoV-2–positive household members and breastfeeding were obtained by follow-up phone calls.
RESULTS: A total of 73 newborns of SARS-CoV-2–positive mothers were born in Israel during the ∼3-month period under study. Overall, 55 participated in this study. All neonates tested negative for the virus postdelivery. A total 74.5% of the neonates were fed unpasteurized expressed breast milk during the postpartum separation until discharge. Eighty-nine percent of the neonates were discharged from the hospital after their mothers were instructed in anti-infection measures. In 40% of the households, there were additional SARS-CoV-2–positive residents. A total of 85% of the newborns were breastfed postdischarge. Results for all 60% of the newborns retested for SARS-CoV-2 postdischarge were negative.
CONCLUSIONS: No viral infection was identified in neonates born to and separated from their SARS-CoV-2–positive mothers at birth and subsequently fed unpasteurized breast milk. All infants breastfed at home remained SARS-CoV-2 negative. These findings may provide insights regarding the redundancy of postpartum mother-newborn separation in SARS-CoV-2–positive women and, assuming precautions are adhered to, support the safety of breast milk.