COVID-19, maternity and breastfeeding - Qld Clinical Guidelines and Uni of WA researchers clarify the facts

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As the COVID-19 virus situation continues to unfold, Queensland Clincal Guidelines (QCG), the Statewide Maternity and Neonatal Clinical Network, as well as scientists from The University of Western Australia’s lactation research team have put together information to help doctors and health professionals support breastfeeding mothers by outlining the known facts and providing evidence-based recommendations.

QCG has just published a statewide clinical guideline, and associated resources for cliniciancs treating women with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19. The clinical guideline is accompanied by a guideline supplement which presents the methodology, levels of evidence, and suggested implementation methods. The supplement is integral to and should be read in conjunction with the guideline. All guideline resources are avilable at www.health.qld.gov.au/qcg:

  • Clinical Guideline and Supplement: Perinatal care of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in pregnant women (Guideline Number: MN20.63-V1-R25)
     
  • COVID-19: Operational framework for maternity and neonatal services
     
  • Flowcharts:
     
    • Triage and risk assessment of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 woman
       
    • Neonate of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 mother
  • Consumer information:
     
    • COVID-19 in pregnancy
       
    • COVID-19 and breastfeeding

Additionally resources have been made available by researchers at the University of Western Australia (UWA) in response to demand from clinicians and new mothers about breastfeeding concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Project lead UWA Senior Research Fellow Melinda Boss from the UWA Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences and the LactaResearch team have developed a free online guidance site for doctors and health professionals called LactaMap which continues to be updated with current and factual breastfeeding information.

“Mothers with newborns are grappling with a tiny human to look after, and also an environment of extreme uncertainty which can understandably be concerning, so it’s important to arm them with the most up-to-date and factual information,” Ms Boss said.

Ms Boss said that health authorities were still learning about the new virus every day, and it was important to understand that advice would vary for individuals based on their circumstances. “However initial data shows that there is no evidence of transmitting the coronavirus through breastmilk and that children and babies are less affected than adults,” she said.

Echoing the QCG guidance Ms Boss said “It’s also important to remember that breastfeeding has enormous effects that would be prevented if replaced by alternative feeding methods such as using infant formula. Some of those benefits include a boosted immune system with increased protection against respiratory infections and diarrhoea. Close maternal-infant proximity also stimulates a healthy heart rate, body temperature, appetite, and other aspects of development in babies.”

 

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