Some parents are breastfeeding their toddlers in hopes of protecting them from COVID-19.
Parents who breastfeed for two years or more have been found to have higher antibody levels in their milk.
However, it has yet to be seen if any immunity could be provided via nursing.
Some California parents have decided to continue nursing longer than officially recommended in hopes of passing COVID-19 antibodies onto their kids via breast milk, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
Until all children are approved to get the vaccine themselves, these moms believe indirect immunity is the next best way to protect their littlest ones.
Many of these parents were already breastfeeding advocates before the pandemic, reporter Marissa Evans wrote for the Times, and they’ve doubled down on their stance since promising research about antibodies in breast milk has emerged.
Some parents told Evans they have slipped their breast milk into their older children’s breakfasts; since getting vaccinated and having a second baby, Melissa Pennel told the Times she’s been pumping her breast milk and putting it in her 2-year-old’s oatmeal, cereal, and smoothies.
In a study published this month in Pediatrics, vaccinated mothers who continued breastfeeding for two years or more had “significantly higher” COVID-19 antibody concentrations than those with shorter breastfeeding periods. The official recommendation for nursing in the US is six months to one year, according to the CDC.
The CDC has urged all pregnant people to get multiple doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, since they have a higher risk of complications due to the disease. There is plenty of data that shows vaccination is safe for both mother and child.
More research is needed to investigate how long COVID-19 antibodies last in breast milk, but the authors called for increased support and education about long breastfeeding periods during pandemic times.
Some moms are already embracing grassroots advocacy with groups like BreastfeedLA. The Times spoke with four mothers who have continued to breastfeed their toddlers and young children during the pandemic, and one advocate said she’s heard from many other vaccinated parents who feel like they’re committing a “social taboo.”
That mom, Mireya Tecpaxohitl Gonzalez, said she still nurses her 3-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter.
“We can actually talk about weaning and she’s old enough to know what antibodies are,” Gonzalez told Evans, speaking about her daughter. “We call them little warriors in the milk and she’s willingly drinking it; she knows about the pandemic.”
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