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10th Apr 2020

New York researcher thinks breastmilk could help protect against COVID-19

Melissa Carton

Could it really work?

When it comes to feeding our babies, breastfeeding is always recommended.

Breast milk helps to boost your child’s immunity but it has also been found to help heal outside the body, particularly when applied to rashes.

It’s considered a bit of a magic substance which is one of the reasons that researcher Rebecca Powell decided to start looking into whether or not it could help in the fight against COVID-19.

The HSE has advised Irish mothers to continue breastfeeding despite the spread of coronavirus as to date their is no evidence of virus transmission in breastmilk.

Powell noted something similar and has begun to examine whether the antibodies lingering in human milk can protect babies from coronavirus and perhaps even adults, much further down the line.

The human milk immunologist recently put out a call on social media looking for samples of breastmilk so she could test this theory further, and if it turns out to have positive results it could be a significant break through in protecting against the virus.

Breast milk has been proven to help protect babies from disease, so could the same anti bodies help protect adults too?

Speaking about her research to VICE, Powell said;

““It was never done with SARS, it was never done with MERS, and even for flu, which is so well-studied. The data on milk protection is actually really sparse, unfortunately.

You can take it one step further because you can ask the question, ‘Well, if we find that there’s really potent antibodies in the milk, can those be used therapeutically in a way that Mt. Sinai and other hospitals are now using convalescent plasma — to treat those who are really ill?”

If Powell makes a breakthrough with her research we could see more and more people recovering from COVID-19 more quickly than ever before, helping to take the pressure off hospitals and ultimately save lives.