Myths About Vaccines and Breastfeeding

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.”

They do not recommend breastfeeding as a substitute for getting vaccinated.

They also don’t recommend that anyone stop breastfeeding after their children are vaccinated.

These are just some of the myths that you might hear about vaccines and breastfeeding.

Myths About Vaccines and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding does provide some immunity against infectious diseases.

Unfortunately, this type of passive immunity won’t keep your child from getting diseases like measles, pertussis, or the flu. Breast milk, which is high in IgA antibodies, can help protect against gastrointestinal diseases and some respiratory infections though.

And that is where the myth about the “recommendation” to stop breastfeeding comes in…

Why do anti-vaccine websites still post misinformation about fake recommendations to stop breastfeeding?
Why do anti-vaccine websites still post misinformation about fake recommendations to stop breastfeeding?

Actually, it was never a recommendation by any major health organization.

It was not a recommendation by the AAP, CDC, or even the WHO.

“Live oral rotavirus vaccines have been less immunogenic and efficacious among children in poor developing countries compared with middle income and industrialized countries for reasons that are not yet completely understood. We assessed whether the neutralizing activity of breast milk could lower the titer of vaccine virus and explain this difference in vitro.”

Moon et al on Inhibitory Effect of Breast Milk on Infectivity of Live Oral Rotavirus Vaccines

And they simply suggested that nursing mothers delay breastfeeding for up to an hour after their baby was vaccinated with an oral rotavirus vaccine. Don’t skip a feeding. Don’t stop breastfeeding. Don’t switch to formula.

“Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea in children less than 5 years of age. Rotavirus disease is responsible for an estimated 527,000 deaths per year worldwide, with >85% of these deaths occurring in low-income countries.”

Moon et al on Inhibitory Effect of Breast Milk on Infectivity of Live Oral Rotavirus Vaccines

Why did they talk about breastfeeding at all?

They were simply looking for a way to boost the effectiveness of rotavirus vaccines in these countries, where rotavirus disease is still a big killer.

Unfortunately, in addition to the whole theory being turned into more propaganda by the anti-vaccine movement, further studies have shown that it likely doesn’t even work.

“Breastfed infants should be vaccinated according to the recommended schedule ”

CDC on General Recommendations on Immunization

What are other myths about vaccines and breastfeeding?

  • that breastfeeding is a substitute for getting vaccinated – it’s not – vaccines are necessary, even if you are breastfeeding your child
  • you can’t get vaccinated if you are breastfeeding – not true, unless you are looking to get a smallpox vaccine, which is contraindicated. Getting a yellow fever vaccine is discouraged if you are breastfeeding, but is not contraindicated if your are traveling to a high risk area.

Although it is currently not available in the United States, you can even get FluMist if you are breastfeeding.

What to Know Vaccines and Breastfeeding Myths

Why do anti-vaccine websites post misinformation about fake recommendations to stop breastfeeding and other myths about vaccines?

More on Myths About Vaccines and Breastfeeding

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