Almost all mothers can breastfeed successfully, which includes initiating breastfeeding within the first hour of life, breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months and continuing breastfeeding (along with giving appropriate complementary foods) up to 2 years of age or beyond.
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of acute infections. It also protects against chronic conditions in the future such as type I diabetes, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. Breastfeeding during infancy is associated with lower mean blood pressure and total serum cholesterol and with lower prevalence of type-2 diabetes, overweight and obesity during adolescence and adult life. Breastfeeding reduces the risks of post-partum hemorrhage, pre-menopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Nevertheless, a small number of health conditions of the infant or the mother may justify recommending that she does not breastfeed temporarily or permanently. These conditions, which concern very few mothers and their infants, are listed below together with some health conditions of the mother that, although serious, are not medical reasons for using breast-milk substitutes.
Infants who should not receive breast milk or any other milk except specialized formula
- Infants with classic galactosemia: a special galactose-free formula is needed.
- Infants with maple syrup urine disease: a special formula free of leucine, isoleucine and valine is needed.
- Infants with phenylketonuria: a special phenylalanine-free formula is needed (some breastfeeding is possible, under careful monitoring).
Infants for whom breast milk remains the best feeding option but who may need other food in addition to breast milk for a limited period
- Infants born weighing less than 1500 g (very low birth weight).
- Infants born at less than 32 weeks of gestational age (very pre-term).
- Newborn infants who are at risk of hypoglycaemia by virtue of impaired metabolic adaptation or increased glucose demand (such as those who are preterm, small for gestational age or who have experienced significant intrapartum hypoxic/ischaemic stress, those who are ill and those whose mothers are diabetic) if their blood sugar fails to respond to optimal breastfeeding or breast-milk feeding.
Maternal conditions that may justify permanent avoidance of breastfeeding
- HIV infection1: if replacement feeding is acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe (AFASS).
Maternal conditions that may justify temporary avoidance of breastfeeding
- Severe illness; like sepsis.
- Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1): direct contact between lesions on the mother’s breasts and the infant’s mouth should be avoided until all active lesions have resolved.
- Maternal medication:
- sedating psychotherapeutic drugs, anti-epileptic drugs and opioids and their combinations may cause side effects such as drowsiness and respiratory depression and are better avoided if a safer alternative is available ;
- radioactive iodine-131 is better avoided given that safer alternatives are available - a mother can resume breastfeeding about two months after receiving this substance;
- Excessive use of topical iodine or iodophors (e.g., povidone-iodine), especially on open wounds or mucous membranes, can result in thyroid suppression or electrolyte abnormalities in the breastfed infant and should be avoided;
- Cytotoxic chemotherapy requires that a mother stops breastfeeding during therapy.
Maternal conditions during which breastfeeding can still continue, although health problems may be of concern
- Breast abscess: breastfeeding should continue on the unaffected breast; feeding from the affected breast can resume once treatment has started.
- Hepatitis B: infants should be given hepatitis B vaccine, within the first 48 hours or as soon as possible thereafter.
- Hepatitis C.
- Mastitis: if breastfeeding is very painful, milk must be removed by expression to prevent progression of the condition.
- Tuberculosis: mother and baby should be managed according to national tuberculosis guidelines.
- Substance use (Mothers should be encouraged not to use these substances, and given opportunities and support to abstain):
- Maternal use of nicotine, alcohol, ecstasy, amphetamines, cocaine and related stimulants has been demonstrated to have harmful effects on breastfed babies;
- Alcohol, opioids, benzodiazepines and cannabis can cause sedation in both the mother and the baby.
Your Baby checkup
what are the vaccinations that he should have taken until now?
Generate a report for my baby.
Track Your Baby Vaccinations
Find Your Baby name
Al Sheikh Zayed