New Guidance: U.S. Pediatricians Say HIV-Positive Mothers Can Breastfeed Safely

In a major turnaround the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued guidance stating that it recommends that HIV-positive mothers should be allowed to breastfeed their babies under strict conditions. This is fundamentally different from the earlier guidelines that discouraged the breast feeding for HIV positive mothers.

The new guidelines assert that the risk of HIV transmission through breast milk is suppressed and negligible for mothers whose viral load is controlled. The definition of viral suppression is the absence of HIV virus in the blood as measurable through normal tests and such state protects the individual from infecting other people.

”The AAP’s new policy states that if HIV-infected mothers are on effective antiretroviral therapy ART and their viral load is undetectable they can breastfeed,” says Dr. Lisa Abuogi who is a pediatrician that was interviewed for a PBS NewsHour article.

This change is based on the recent findings from existing research that illustrates the significant positive impact of breastfeeding on both the mother and the child. It is important to understand that only breast milk is able to protect the child from many diseases and contain the right nutrients to support their growth. Also, it is worth adding that the occurrence of sudden death syndrome (SIDS) or other health problems can be reduced in the case of breastfeeding.

In the past, the fear of HIV transmission through breastfeeding led experts to advise against breastfeeding for mothers who were infected with HIV, particularly in the developed world where formula alternatives are readily available. However, it is a dangerous practice in resource-limited settings, as formula feeding can be unsafe due to inadequate sanitation and contamination.

Recent headlines, such as ‘Ohio Sex Worker with HIV Serviced 211 Clients,’ highlight the ongoing challenges and concerns surrounding HIV transmission.”

The AAP’s latest statement addresses this difference and advocates for providing women with the information they need.

AAP points out that “the question of whether to breastfeed or not should be left for each mother to decide according to the advice of her healthcare provider” according to a press release by Dr. Sarah Buckley a lactation consultant.

They advocate for nutritional support and provision of antiretroviral therapy and regular care and monitoring opportunities for HIV-positive women who wish to breastfeed. Moreover, they provide suggestions to further help lower the risk of passing on the infection during breastfeeding, including refraining from breastfeeding if the mother experiences nipple abrasion or a sore on the navel.

This new position statement and policy from the AAP has been well received and it gives HIV-positive mothers the opportunity to breast feed their infants as well.

More Information:

You May Also Like

+ There are no comments

Add yours