COVID-19: Transmission from infected mother to child through breastfeeding not proven – Lecturer

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By Uchediunor Augusta

Lagos – Prof. Sunday Omilabu, a Professor of Medical Virology at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, says presently, COVID-19 has not been established to be transmittable from an infected mother to child.

Omilabu, who is also the Hospital Virologist to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), disclosed this during an online interactive session with members of the Health Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HEWAN) on Thursday in Lagos.

Omilabu, also an Adjunct Professor of Medical Virology to the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), spoke on the possibility of the virus getting into the foetus.

“Talking about pregnant women and breastfeeding, infected mothers, who we have had from our little experience during this COVID-19 outbreak, have no virus in their breasts milk.

“And this is not far-fetched because the virus is a localised infection in the respiratory tract.

“It takes a long time before the virus moves into the bloodstream.

“It also takes a long time before the virus moves into other body fluids and that is what we’ve seen in this instance.

“It is localised, it is not a systemic viral infection,’’ Omilabu, who is also a principal investigatory consultant at the Lagos State Bio Bank, said.

According to him, this requires further studies as COVID-19 is still a new disease.

“So, we need more studies to prove that the virus can get into the foetus.

“But we know that it is localised, it will take a long while before the virus can get into the foetus.

“It is an instance where we have viremia that will make it much easier for the virus to gain access into the foetus,’’ he said.

Viremia is a medical condition where viruses enter the bloodstream and hence have access to the rest of the body.

Omilabu charged Nigerians to keep observing standard precautionary measures, including handwashing with soap and clean running water, use of hand sanitisers and maintaining social distance to guard against COVID-19.


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