Childbirth expert: Breastfeeding & swine flu

September 13, 2009 12:03
3 minute read.


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Rachelle Oseran is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator with 23 years of experience working with pregnant and postpartum women. She is also a fitness professional certified by ACE (The American Council on Exercise) and a certified prenatal and postnatal exercise instructor. She co-directs Great Shape Exercise Studio at the Jerusalem YMCA.
Rachelle also teaches Lamaze childbirth preparation classes and can be reached

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Q: I am concerned about the new swine flu outbreak. Will breastfeeding help protect my baby against this potentially deadly illness?

A: The answer is an unequivocal "yes". The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued recommendations on swine flu considerations for breastfeeding stating, "Infants who are not breastfeeding are particularly vulnerable to infection and hospitalization for severe respiratory illness. Women who deliver should be encouraged to initiate breastfeeding early and feed frequently." The United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) recommends breastfeeding as a critical strategy to prevent infection.

"Research clearly shows that breastfeeding provides a safe, reliable food source, full of disease-fighting cells and antibodies that help protect infants from germs and illnesses. Mothers exposed to influenza produce specific protection for their infants and transmit this through their breast milk. Infant formula does not provide these specific infection fighting properties. Unnecessary formula supplementation should be eliminated so the infant can receive as much benefit as possible from maternal protective antibodies and other immune protective factors."

The CDC recommends that even if a woman is ill she should continue breastfeeding and increase the frequency of her nursing. If the mother is too sick to nurse, she should express her milk and have someone else feed it to her baby. Nursing can give the baby added protection from the complications of the flu, such as severe respiratory problems, diarrhea, other gastrointestinal infections and dehydration.

For more information on breastfeeding and swine flu, see the updated recommendations of the CDC at:

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Cafe Oleh experts have been chosen for their knowledge and reputation. Cafe Oleh does not take responsibility for any advice they offer.

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