The Zika Virus and Breastfeeding

By now, you may have heard that the Zika virus is running rampant is some parts of South America. There have been many confirmed cases of Zika in the southern part of the United States in several states. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, so an otherwise normal female mosquito that bites a person that is positive for Zika, can then continue to spread it. The WHO has a right to be concerned! For people that are not pregnant, the sickness is very mild. However, there is a strong link between the Zika virus and microcephaly. There were 4,000 cases of microcephaly in Brazil, a 2,500% increase from 2014. The earlier in pregnancy a mother is, the riskier it is to her developing baby.

What does this mean for breastfeeding mothers? Many may be concerned that they may transmit this virus to their baby. According to the CDC, there haven’t been any cases where Zika virus has been passed along through breast milk. However, the baby may still be bitten by a positively infected mosquito, and may contract the illness.

mosquito-bite

Zika virus RNA has been found in breast milk and this could actually benefit the baby. Mothers may  be passing antibodies to the Zika virus through their breast milk, which could act as a vaccine. It is unknown whether this would completely prevent the illness, or just lessen the symptoms. Currently, there is not a vaccine for the Zika virus.

The CDC has a list of symptoms to look out for, but I am unsure if these symptoms would present differently or more severely in babies and small children.

From the CDC:

  • About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill (i.e., develop Zika).
  • The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.
  • The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
  • Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for a few days but it can be found longer in some people.
  • Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
  • Deaths are rare.

Continue to breastfeed your child, but take protective measures to prevent getting bitten by any mosquitoes. This includes eliminating potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes, making sure there is no standing water outside. Wear long sleeves and pants. Use mosquito repellent, here is an approved list for safe repellents, and limit time spent outside during high mosquito activity. Mosquitoes attack at dawn and dusk, in warm climates, and high humidity weather.

If anyone has anything to add to this post, please comment below.

Sources:

  1. http://www.cdc.gov/zika/symptoms/index.html
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/zika/hc-providers/qa-pediatrician.html
  3. http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/faq/repellent.html
  4. http://www.mosquitoworld.net/when-mosquitoes-bite/feeding-habits/
  5. http://kellymom.com/pregnancy/bf-prep/how_breastmilk_protects_newborns/
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The Smart Changing Pad, Can it Replace Professional Guidance?

How would you like a product that can weigh your baby, track their growth, monitor diaper output, and tell you how much breast milk your baby consumed? When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The $300 price tag doesn’t help either, but you know… PROFIT.

I have to wonder if the creators collaborated with IBCLCs regarding this product. Part of me doesn’t think so. They like to prey on women that doubt their supply by claiming it can do pre and post feed weights. They also say on their website that only 5% of women deal with true low milk supply – not accurate. More like 5-15% as supported by present data. (source) However, this scale is not accurate enough to do appropriate pre and post feed weights. This scale is only accurate to 10mLs, which is a third of an ounce. The scales that lactation consultants use are accurate up to 1-2mLs, and yes, it really does matter and is important that these scales used for these purposes be that sensitive.

Cost is also a barrier here, at close to $300 you could have gotten help from a private practice IBCLC (which is usually covered by insurance). Lactation consultants have the accurate $1,000 scale, the professional advice, the follow-up, the explanation, the encouragement, the referrals, and everything else that comes from our care. What does this company want you to do? Use an inaccurate scale and get help from baby center (this is who they are associated with), a notoriously horrible information hub for baby care online. If you have concerns about your child’s growth, diaper output, or breastfeeding, see a professional, not a company.