Breastfeeding and RSV Protection: Affirmative Findings from Studies

According to a CDC Health Alert released last week, RSV cases are increasing at rates much faster than are typical at this time of year. While this news can be alarming, remember that most RSV infections tend to be mild cases similar to the common cold that usually resolve within several weeks – although for babies born prematurely or living with chronic health conditions RSV infection could result in more serious illnesses like bronchiolitis or pneumonia that require hospitalization or medication treatment.

Statistics estimate that 1 or 2 babies aged less than six months require hospitalization due to RSV; however, recent research demonstrates how breastfeeding for at least two and preferably four to six months before giving them formula can protect them against severe forms of illness.

Breastfeeding offers protection from RSV and other viruses because human milk contains components which bolster babies’ immune systems and protect them against infection,” states Jessica Madden, MD, FAAP, IBCLC of Aeroflow Breastpumps’ medical directorship and director of breastfeeding medicine services. These components may include antibodies, white blood cells, lactoferrin, antioxidants and vitamins which work as defense mechanisms against infections like RSV.

Although WHO guidelines advise exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months for optimal immune protection against viral illnesses, not every family can afford that luxury. Combination feeding can still offer some help during RSV season – with even wider protection being promised with RSV vaccines available soon for kids under 2.)

Here is all you need to know about breastfeeding as an aid against severe RSV and tips for feeding a baby who already has RSV.

Studies indicate breastfeeding to be protective against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), according to studies published in 2022 in Paediatrics journal. Breastfeeding was linked with lower rates of hospitalized babies diagnosed with RSV bronchiolitis than bottle feeding was.

At least four-month exclusive breastfeeding was found to provide significant results; however, partial breastfeeding (when combined with formula feeding) also showed promising results, helping reduce disease severity, length of hospital stay and need for extra oxygen support – although more studies support its benefits in RSV prevention as well.

Duration may be an important consideration here: the 2022 review revealed that infants hospitalized with RSV were more likely to have been breastfed for less than two months or not at all during hospitalization.

More research must be completed; however, some researchers state that breastfeeding may help protect against airway damage, and boost lung growth and function.

Feeding your baby who already has RSV can be challenging due to all their congestion preventing them from drinking as much milk. Dr. Madden offers her best tips for feeding an RSV-infected infant.

Related Article: Amy Schumer’s Son Hospitalized With RSV: ‘This Has Been the Hardest Week Of My Life”

Expert advice for feeding your RSV baby Babies who suffer from RSV often exhibit nasal congestion and mucus build-up that makes breathing hard while feeding,” according to Dr. Madden. Employing supportive techniques may make feeding sessions more comfortable for everyone involved.

Make preparations for more frequent feeds
Cluster feeding could prove useful here as Dr. Madden notes. Babies suffering from RSV might require frequent, short feeding sessions in order to consume enough milk in order to remain hydrated and remain at an ideal weight.

Related Article: Pfizer’s RSV vaccine can protect newborns against serious illness

Bring lots of comfort, cuddles, and cuddles: No matter if breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or combination feeding your infant if they become sick; when this occurs be ready to offer lots of comforting cuddling time according to Dr. Madden.

Implement saline Utilize a combination of saline spray and suction two or three times each day can help clear out your baby’s nasal passages more efficiently, Dr. Madden suggests using this approach with one to two saline drops placed into each nostril before suctioning out secretions using either NoseFrida or bulb syringe (we like The Boogie Brand’s micro mist inhalers for optimal results.)

Establish a Steam Room mes Some children experience congestion at night. To create a steam room in your bathroom, run your shower at high heat with its door closed so steam fills your room, before administering any night feedings in this atmosphere of steamy warmth and comfort for their breathing ease. Also remember to run humidifiers throughout their rooms during both daytime hours as well as bedtime hours if possible!

Dr. Madden emphasizes the importance of getting adequate rest as part of breastfeeding; especially during cold, flu and RSV season when rest is important to both mother and baby alike. By getting sufficient sleep and staying hydrated with water you’ll boost milk supply as well as prevent getting colds yourself!