Novel H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) and Feeding your Baby: What Parents Should Know
This document updates previously posted information for parents about infant
feeding and novel H1N1 flu (swine flu). It now more clearly addresses
parents who are formula feeding as well as breastfeeding, suggests that parents
sick with novel H1N1 flu (swine flu) find someone who is not sick to feed the
baby, and provides more detailed strategies for breastfeeding mothers to
maintain breastfeeding throughout the course of infection. This document is
based on current knowledge of the novel H1N1 flu outbreak in the United States,
and may be revised as more information becomes available.
What is this new flu virus?
This novel H1N1 flu virus (sometimes called “swine flu”) was first detected
in people in April 2009 in the United States. This virus is spreading from
person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza
What can I do to protect my baby?
precautions such as washing your hands with plain soap and water or using
an alcohol-based hand rub before feeding your baby. More tips on good
health habits for preventing sickness from the flu virus can be found at this
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm. In addition, try not to
cough or sneeze in the baby’s face while feeding your baby, or any other time
you and your baby are close. If possible, only family members who are not sick
should care for infants. If you are sick and there is no one else to care
for your baby, wear a facemask, if available and tolerable, and cover your
mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. For more
information, see the Interim
Recommendations for Facemask and Respirator Use.
Is it ok to for me to feed my baby if I am
Infants are thought to be at higher risk for severe illness from novel
influenza A (H1N1) infection and very little is known about prevention of novel
H1N1 flu infection in infants. If you are breastfeeding or giving your baby
infant formula, a cautious approach would be to protect your baby from exposure
to the flu virus in the following ways:
- Ask for help from someone who is not sick to feed and care for your baby,
- If there is no one else who can take care of your baby while you are sick,
try to wear a face mask at all times when you are feeding or caring for your
baby. You should also be very careful about washing your hands and taking
everyday precautions to prevent your baby from getting flu (
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm). Using a cloth blanket
between you and your baby during feedings might also help.
- If you are breastfeeding, someone who is not sick can give your baby your
expressed milk. Ideally babies less than about 6 months of age should get
their feedings from breast milk. It is OK to take medicines to treat the
flu while you are breastfeeding.
Does breastfeeding protect babies from this new flu