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Experts warn against parents sharing breast milk for COVID-19 antibodies

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Posted at 6:52 AM, Apr 04, 2021

Experts are warning parents against sharing breast milk which they believe may contain COVID-19 antibodies.

The FDA says it recommends against acquiring breast milk directly from individuals or through the internet. The danger or worry is some people may have been exposed to infectious diseases, some illegal drugs or prescription drugs.

Still, some are taking the risk in hopes to protect their babies from the pandemic.

"If there's a way I can do something that offers a level of protection to my child, I'd like to try," said Courtney Carson, a Brooklyn resident and mother to a 4-month-old.

Carson told "Good Morning America" that she read research about antibodies being passed from mothers to their babies so she turned to her community of new parents.

"I decided that I would just ask and see if anyone was willing to donate for me and my son," Carson said.

Yoko Lytle, 39, who said she was vaccinated in February and in good health, decided to donate some of her breast milk to Carson.

"I know that the mother was also aware that the science wasn't fully behind it yet but she just needed some peace of mind and if a few bags of milk can give someone peace of mind, then I'm happy to give it," Lytle told "GMA."

So far, there are no studies that show donated breast milk can do the same, and medical experts are calling for more research to understand what levels of protection, if any, can be passed on to children.

"There is some limited evidence that there can be in utero protection from a woman who's been vaccinated or naturally infected," ABC News' chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said.

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Instead, the FDA recommends finding a milk bank as a safer option.

"Not only do we screen the donors, we test their blood. So we test their blood for infectious diseases and then we pasteurized the milk in a way that preserves the immunological properties of the milk," said Julie Bouchet-Horwitz, founder and executive director of The New York Milk Bank.

Ashton said it's important to stick to CDC data, which says that kids age 18 and under are at lesser risk -- accounting for 1.7% of clinical infections. There are higher rates of spread in kids ages 10-19.

Ashton echoed the risks that come with sharing breast milk.

"This is a bodily fluid. It can transmit major infectious diseases, other medications, drug metabolites and remember...risks definitely outweigh any potential benefits," Ashton said.

For pregnant women, Ashton said they can protect their children by getting vaccinated.