Researchers analyzed dozens of breast milk samples and found none to contain any bit of viral genetic material.
However, they found infants do receive ‘milk-borne’ antibodies that can neutralize the coronavirus.
The team, from the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, says the findings provide evidence for why COVID-19 positive women should not be separated from their newborns.
For the study, published in mBio, the team looked at 37 samples of breast milk submitted by 18 women who had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
None of the samples they looked at contained genetic material of the virus or antigens, which are proteins found on the surface of the virus.
However, they found that nearly two-thirds of the samples contained two antibodies specific to the coronavirus.
“We found high levels of IgA – a common antibody in blood and other body fluids – in their breast milk,” said Dr Mark Sangster, a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at URMC.
For their next phase of research, the team is scaling up the study and is enrolling 50 breastfeeding women diagnosed with COVID-19.
The researchers plan to follow their progress with the disease over two months.
“This work needs to be replicated in larger cohorts. Additionally, we now need to understand if the COVID-19 vaccine impacts breast milk in the same way,” co-investigator Dr Bridget Young, assistant professor in the paediatrics department at URMC, said. Mail Online