Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for nursing mothers?
The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) does not recommend cessation of breastfeeding for individuals who are vaccinated against COVID-19. In a new statement, the ABM suggests that lactating women discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with their health care provider, within the context of their risk of contracting COVID-19 and of developing severe disease, according to the peer-reviewed journal Breastfeeding Medicine.
This is a challenging topic because the vaccine trials excluded lactating women. Thus, there are no clinical data regarding the safety of the Pfizer/BioNtech or the Moderna vaccine in nursing mothers. According to the ABM statement, "there is little biological plausibility that the vaccine will cause harm, and antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19] in milk may protect the breastfeeding child."
"Without clinical data, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine relied on biological plausibility and expert opinion to craft a statement on considerations for mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in lactation," says Alison Stuebe, MD, President of ABM. "The available information is reassuring; however, pregnant and lactating people deserve better than plausibility to guide medical decisions. Henceforward, phase 3 clinical trials should routinely include pregnant and lactating participants. It's time to protect pregnant and breastfeeding individuals through research, not from research."
Arthur I. Eidelman, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Breastfeeding Medicine, states: "The publication of the balanced ABM statement will serve as an immediate guide for clinicians and families in deciding to proceed with COVID-19 vaccination of nursing mothers."
More information: Alison Stuebe, President's Corner: Introduction to ABM's Statement on Considerations for COVID-19 Vaccination in Lactation, Breastfeeding Medicine (2020). DOI: 10.1089/bfm.2020.29171.ams