Breastfeeding with Strep
Is it safe to be nursing my baby with strep throat?
“Breastfeeding with Strep”’
Dear “Breastfeeding with Strep”,
Yes, it is safe to breastfeed your baby if you have Strep Pharyngitis (Strep Throat). The anti-infective agents found in breast milk offers the newborn protection against diseases.(1) Breast milk contains macrophages, neutrophils and lymphocytes which are all different types of white blood cells that fight infections. These cells surround and destroy harmful bacteria.
Besides the anti-infective benefits of breast milk, the nutritional components provide your baby with the necessary nutrients in the correct proportions in order to promote growth and development. Although formula companies attempt to create a formula that is comparable to breast milk, the exact components of breast milk cannot be duplicated.(1) Your baby was already exposed to you before you were officially diagnosed and treated for Strep Throat. So at this point there is no reason to remove the antibodies that your baby is receiving via breastfeeding from your baby's diet.
Lastly, and just as important, breastfeeding encourages the promotion of maternal infant attachment. (1) Interruption of this attachment is not recommended unless the infant's health is at risk, or if a mother's medication intake is dangerous to the baby. These are some of the reasons that the benefits of breastfeeding your baby through your illness outweighs any risk of transmission of infection.
Strep pharyngitis is transmitted via respiratory secretions. (2) Practicing measures that prevent your child from coming into contact with your respiratory secretions will help protect your baby. These measures include, careful hand washing with warm soapy water before handling the baby’s pacifiers, teething rings or toys, before feeding your baby, before touching or cleaning your baby’s belly button and before preparing food. Other preventative measures include proper disposal of soiled tissues, not kissing baby on the face or hands, avoid putting baby’s hands in your mouth, and covering your mouth during coughing and sneezing.
The most common treatment for Strep Pharyngitis includes Amoxicillin or Penicillin. Both of these antibiotics are considered relatively safe for breastfeeding. (1) Typically once a person with Strep Pharyngitis or Strep Throat is on an antibiotic for 24 hours the risk of transmission is decreased. Close contact should be avoided until after a patient is treated with antibiotics for 24 hours. (2) This close contact includes activities which promote the exchange of respiratory secretions such as kissing, hugging, sharing of utensils and sharing food. (2)
Good luck with your new baby and I hope you are feeling better soon.
(1)Riordan J. A Practical Guide to Breastfeeding. St. Louis Missouri: The C.V. Mosby Company. 1983:34-35, 28, 41-42, 141.
(2) American Academy of Pediatrics. Group A Streptococcal Infections. In: Peter G, ed. 1997. Red Book: Report of the Committee on Infectious Disease. 24th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 1997:483-491387-394.
Lisa-ann Kelly R.N., P.N.P.,C.
Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Pediatric Advice For Healthy Babies