Bharti Joshi1, Vanita Suri1, Rashmi Bagga1*, Mini P Singh3, Vikas Suri2, Kapil Goyal3, Vanita Jain1, GRV Prasad1, Venkana Nethavath1, Dipesh Kumar Verma3, Ritu Gaur3, Amandeep Kang4, Shashi Kiran Singh5 and PVM Lakshmi6
1Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER),
2Department of Internal Medicine, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research
3Department of Virology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER),Chandigarh, India
4Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Government Multispeciality Hospital (GMSH-16), Chandigarh, India
5Department of Paediatrics, Government Multispeciality Hospital (GMSH-16), Chandigarh, India
6Department of Epidemiology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER, Chandigarh,
Background: To test SARS-CoV-2 in vaginal swabs and breast milk & to look for inhibitory effects of breast milk on viral RNA isolation.
Methods: We tested breast milk and vaginal swabs for SARS-CoV-2 in seven COVID-19 pregnant and postpartum patients. To evaluate the inhibitory effect of breast milk on RNA isolation, breast milk of healthy mothers was spiked with SARS-CoV-2 of known Ct value in dilutions. Four neonates were also tested for SARS-CoV-2.
Results: Of the seven patients, one was antenatal in second trimester, four were early postpartum and two were breast-feeding with a child of 3 months and 2 years of age, respectively. All breast milk and vaginal swab samples tested negative for SARS-CoV-2. The serial dilutions of spiked breast samples from healthy lactating mothers when tested by real time PCR showed the increase
in Ct value as compared to standard spiked VTM samples. The four neonates were separated from mothers at birth, given replacement feeds, and tested negative at 48 h and day 5 of life. The two breast-feeding children were positive for COVID-19 and were asymptomatic.
Conclusion: We observed negative results for SARS-CoV-2 virus in vaginal swabs, breast milk and neonatal swabs suggesting that these two sources may not contribute to vertical transmission. Due to the inhibitory factors present in breast milk, SARS-CoV-2 might not have been detected by present real time PCR assay if viral copy number is too low. However, more literature is needed to elucidate whether SARS-CoV-2 virus can be transmitted through breast milk and vaginal secretions.
Breast milk; COVID-19; Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RTPCR); SARS-CoV-2 virus; Vaginal swab; Vertical transmission; Covid; Corona Virus; Coronavirus disease 2019
Joshi B, Suri V, Bagga R, Singh MP, Suri V, Goyal K, et al. SARS-Cov-2 Virus in Breast Milk and Vaginal Swabs among Pregnant and Postpartum Women with Covid-19 – A Study from a Tertiary Care Hospital in Chandigarh, India. Am J Med Public Health. 2021;2(2):1020..