Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Does Not Recommend Cessation of Breastfeeding After Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine

The statement said lactating women should discuss the risks and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine with their health care provider.

In a new statement, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) says lactating women should discuss the risks and benefits of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine with their health care provider, although they do not recommend cessation of breastfeeding for those who are vaccinated.1

Because the vaccine trials have excluded lactating women, there are no clinical data about the safety of either the Moderna or Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines in nursing women. The ABM statement said this is a “yawning gap” in data and is the product of decisions made by researchers more than 40 years ago to exclude pregnant women from research.2 The goal of this decision was to avoid any risk to the fetus or nursing child, according to the statement.2

“In the short term, this strategy avoided liability; in the long term, it has left providers and patients without clinical data to make informed decisions,” the ABM wrote in the statement.2

Without these data, the ABM said it relied on biological plausibility and expert opinions to craft their statement on considerations for mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. According to the statement, there is little evidence that the vaccine will harm either lactating women, fetuses, or nursing children, and antibodies to the virus in milk may protect breastfeeding children.2

“The available information is reassuring; however, pregnant and lactating people deserve better than plausibility to guide medical decisions,” said ABM President Alison Stuebe, MD, in a press release. “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.”1

REFERENCES

  • Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe for Nursing Mothers? [news release]. Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine; January 12, 202 https://home.liebertpub.com/news/is-the-covid-19-vaccine-safe-for-nursing-mothers/3801. Accessed January 18, 202
  • Stuebe, A. President’s Corner: Introduction to ABM’s Statement on Considerations for COVID-19 Vaccination in Lactation. December 23, 2020. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/bfm.2020.29171.ams. Accessed January 18, 2021.