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PHO to mothers: Breastfeeding must continue amidst pandemic

“How can I protect my baby against the dreadful virus?”


This is just one of the many questions that nurturing mothers or even expectant mothers have always in their mind, as the ongoing pandemic brought about by the dreadful coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has taken its toll on many Filipino families’ health.


As COVID-19 and its variants continue to affect the lives of the people, expectant and nurturing mothers have many concerns to watch out for their babies’ health and safety, posing a degree of difficulty to infant feeding.


Dr. Shayne Borling, medical officer of Pangasinan Provincial Health Office (PHO), said breastfeeding and a nurturing mother-infant interaction must continue amidst pandemic, because it helps prevent deadly infections and promote health and development of children.


“Kapag ang isang ina ay nagpapa-suso, maraming naita-transfer na vitamins, nutrients and anti-bodies ang ina sa kanyang sanggol,” Borling said during the “Pantongtongan Tayo” radio program of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) – Pangasinan.


Borling said if the mother is provided with the anti-bodies of COVID-19 infection, even the anti-bodies for the said disease could be transferred to the baby.


“Ibig sabihin kahit hindi man mabakunahan si baby at dahil wala pang COVID-19 vaccines for babies, pwede din na ang sanggol ay maging protected against COVID-19 through breastfeeding,” Borling said.


She also encouraged mid- to late-term pregnant women and breastfeeding or lactating women to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the vaccines are safe and are beneficial to both the mother and child.


She said even if the mother is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, as long as she is stable or asymptomatic, breastfeeding should continue following proper wearing of masks, and frequent, proper handwashing before and after contact with the child.


Borling also added that mothers who are confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19 should not worry because according to studies, COVID-19 are unlikely to be transmitted through breastmilk.


Likewise, Dr. Dean Hernando Zenarosa, consulting physician of PIA, said according to the World Health Organization (WHO), among the few cases of confirmed COVID-19 infection in children, most have experienced only mild or asymptomatic illness—and this must be supported with the immunological benefits of breastfeeding in infants and young children.


“To date, COVID-19 has not been detected in the breastmilk of any mother with confirmed or suspected COVID-19,” Zenarosa said.


According to the Department of Health (DOH), Breastfeeding is TAMA, SAPAT, at EKSKLUSIBO as the first food of newborns aged zero to six months, and continues to have benefits from six months onwards, when complemented with safe, nutritious, adequate, and diverse food.


This month of August, the country observes the National Breastfeeding Awareness Month with the theme “Tulong-Tulong sa Pagpapasuso sa First 1,000 Days!”


Through the celebration, the government urged the public to support mothers as they exclusively breastfeed in the first six months of life. (JCR/VHS/EMSA/PIA Pangasinan)


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Elsha Marie Arguel

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