Lifewatch: Breastfeeding recommended during flu outbreak

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - As the CDC continues to monitor the swine flu outbreak, health officials are zeroing in on how to protect the most vulnerable population, infants.

Breastfeeding is being recommended as a "critical strategy" to prevent infection.

Doting first-time parents Rob and Rikki Emanuel want to do whatever they can to keep their 10-week-old daughter Eliza healthy.

When faced with the decision over whether or not to breastfeed Eliza, Rikki said looking into the benefits of breast milk made it an easy choice.

"Immunity for the baby, as far as them not being able to defend themselves from colds and everything and the fact that you pass that on to them," Rikki said.

This immunity has health officials stepping up to say with the current swine flu outbreak, mothers that can breastfeed their infants should.

"A mother's body makes immunities for the baby, so antibodies are actually formed in the mother's body by everything that she is exposed to," said lactation consultant Martha Benglis. "So she transfers those immunities to the baby."

Benglis said not only is the breast milk full of disease-fighting cells and antibodies, but it also contributes to marked improvements for children as they grow older.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also urging parents to remember to protect their babies in the same way they protect themselves, especially by keeping their hands, that often times end up in their mouths, clean.

CDC guidance recommends that if a mother is ill, she should continue breastfeeding and increase feeding frequency.

Women can continue to breastfeed while receiving anti-viral medications.

For more information about the benefits of breastfeeding, click here.