Does Breastfeeding Prevent RSV? Studies Say Yes

According to a CDC Overall health Warn released past 7 days, RSV cases are surging at fees bigger than are usually noticed at this time of 12 months. The news is stressing, but it is significant to keep in mind that the the greater part of RSV circumstances are gentle, with symptoms equivalent to the typical chilly, generally passing in a 7 days or two. But for some infants born prematurely or with continual health and fitness situations, RSV can guide to a additional severe ailment, these as bronchiolitis or pneumonia. 

Stats estimate that for each individual 100 infants below 6 months of age, one or two may possibly need hospitalization for RSV. But latest investigate reveals that breastfeeding for at least two months and ideally four to 6 could assistance defend infants from serious forms of the illness.  

“Breastfeeding is protecting from RSV and other viruses mainly because human milk includes parts that bolster babies’ immune systems and support defend them from an infection,” claims Jessica Madden, MD, FAAP, IBCLC, a breastfeeding drugs and infant feeding professional and the healthcare director of Aeroflow Breastpumps. “These include things like antibodies, white blood cells, lactoferrin, anti-oxidants, and nutritional vitamins.”

When the WHO suggests unique breastfeeding for the to start with six months of daily life for finest immune defense in opposition to viral illnesses, unique breastfeeding is not often an solution for every loved ones. But even mix feeding with method can offer useful immune support for your baby or toddler for the duration of RSV period. (It is most likely that an RSV vaccine is on the horizon, as well, which will provide even broader protection for young ones less than 2.)

Here’s what to know about how breastfeeding can enable avoid significant RSV, as perfectly as tips on feeding a little one with RSV. 

Breastfeeding is protective in opposition to RSV, experiments display

Results from a February 2022 systematic overview revealed in “Pediatrics” confirmed that breastfeeding is linked with decreased rates of infants hospitalized with RSV bronchiolitis. 

The most sizeable effects were witnessed with infants who were completely breastfeeding for at least four months, but the overview exhibits that even partial breastfeeding (breastfeeding in mixture with method feeding) may perhaps decrease the severity of the disorder, size of medical center remain and have to have for supplemental oxygen. Other research assistance the rewards of combination feeding in preventing RSV too. 

Length might be an significant factor here: The 2022 review showed that infants who have been hospitalized with RSV have been additional probable to be breastfed for fewer than two months or not at all.  

Extra research is wanted, but some researchers state that breastfeeding may perhaps defend versus airway destruction, and can also boost lung progress and purpose.  

But what if your tiny 1 previously has RSV? Feeding your toddler with RSV can be challenging, since all that stuffiness can make it more durable for them to get in as substantially milk as they might commonly. Dr. Madden shares her ideal ideas for feeding a toddler with RSV. 

Relevant: Amy Schumer’s son hospitalized with RSV: ‘The hardest 7 days of my life’

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“Babies who develop signs or symptoms of RSV usually have a large amount of nasal congestion and mucus, which can make it tough to breathe whilst feeding,” states Dr. Madden. Using some supportive procedures can make feeding sessions more snug. 

Get ready for far more regular feeds

Recall cluster feeding from people early days? That may be practical in this article. “Babies with RSV might have to have a lot more frequent, limited feeding periods to be equipped to drink ample milk to remain hydrated,” Dr. Madden notes. 

Linked: Pfizer’s RSV vaccine for pregnancy can protect newborns from critical sickness

Provide lots of ease and comfort

And carry on the snuggles: No matter if you are breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or combination feeding, be geared up for your child to want to be held a good deal when they are sick, adds Dr. Madden. 

Consider saline

Working with a saline spray and suction two to a few moments for each working day can assistance apparent out your baby’s stuffy nasal passages. “The easiest way to do this is to instill 1 to two saline drops into each individual nostril and then suction out mucus and secretions with both a NoseFrida or bulb syringe,” Dr. Madden suggests. (We also like the saline micro mist inhaler from The Boogie Brand name.) 

Create a steam area

For some very little kinds, congestion may well get even worse at night time. Build a steam space by functioning your shower at the greatest warmth with the door closed, letting the steam fill your rest room. Then do any night time feedings in that steamy environment to help your small one breathe less difficult. Don’t fail to remember to run a humidifier all through the working day and in their space at night time, too. 

Make sure you relaxation up, far too

If you are breastfeeding, never underestimate the relevance of acquiring a lot of rest on your own, in particular during cold, flu, and RSV year, stresses Dr. Madden. Getting adequate rest and keeping hydrated can not only support enhance your milk source, but can also enable be certain you really do not catch chilly, much too. 

Highlighted pro

Jessica Madden, MD, FAAP, IBCLC, is a breastfeeding drugs and infant feeding expert and the health care director of Aeroflow Breastpumps. She is board-licensed in pediatrics, neonatology and lactation.


Gómez-Acebo, I., Lechosa-Muñiz, C., Paz-Zulueta, M. et al. Feeding in the initially six months of life is connected with the likelihood of acquiring bronchiolitis: a cohort review in Spain. Int Breastfeed J 16, 82 (2021). doi:10.1186/s13006-021-00422-z

Jang MJ, Kim YJ, Hong S, et al. Positive affiliation of breastfeeding on respiratory syncytial virus an infection in hospitalized infants: a multicenter retrospective examine. Clin Exp Pediatr. 202063(4):135-140. doi:10.3345/kjp.2019.00402 

Mineva G, Philip R. Impact of Breastfeeding on the Incidence and Severity of RSV Bronchiolitis in Infants: Systematic Evaluate. Pediatrics. 2022 Feb 23149(1 Meeting Abstracts February 2022):280-.