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Breastfed babies are dying following mothers who received COVID-19 vaccination.

Theoretical concerns regarding the safety of vaccinating lactating individuals do not outweigh the potential benefits of receiving the vaccine.

Theoretical concerns regarding the safety of vaccinating lactating individuals do not outweigh the potential benefits of receiving the vaccine.Posts with alarming headlines about breastfeeding babies having adverse reactions because their mothers are vaccinated are spread unchecked on social media platforms. One such post elaborates that data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) revealed that two babies have allegedly died of blood clots and inflamed arteries a few weeks after their mothers received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

At the outset, VAERS is a passive reporting system, and anyone can report an adverse event on it. VAERS accepts and analyzes reports of possible health problems—also called "adverse events"—after vaccination. Prima facie information cited on VAERS is unconfirmed and unassessed. Specifically, a report to VAERS does not mean that a vaccine caused an adverse event. VAERS is not designed to determine if a vaccine caused a health problem but helps detect unusual or unexpected patterns of adverse event reporting that might indicate a possible safety problem with a vaccine.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the vaccine for all 12 years and older, including pregnant and breastfeeding. CDC advises that the COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause infection in anyone, including the mother or the baby, and the vaccines effectively prevent COVID-19 in people breastfeeding. It states that recent reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies. However, since the clinical trials for the vaccines did not include breastfeeding women, there is currently limited data on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines on breastfeeding women. That said, there is growing scientific consensus on there being little biological plausibility that the vaccine will cause the breastfeeding mother and child any harm.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) also recommends vaccinations for pregnant and breastfeeding. ACOG advises that ''Theoretical concerns regarding the safety of vaccinating lactating individuals do not outweigh the potential benefits of receiving the vaccine.'' It states that there is no need to avoid initiating or discontinuing breastfeeding in patients receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) also does not recommend breastfeeding cessation for individuals vaccinated against COVID-19. It advises that lactating individuals should discuss ''the risks and benefits of vaccination with their health care provider, within the context of their risk of contracting COVID-19 and of developing severe disease.'' In fact, ABM advises that it is unlikely that the lipid present in the vaccine would enter the bloodstream and reach breast tissue during lactation. If it happens, it is even less likely that either the intact nanoparticle or mRNA present in the vaccine will transfer into milk. In the unlikely event that mRNA is present in milk, it would be expected to be digested by the child and would be unlikely to have any biological effects.

The IFE Core Group, UNICEF, and the COVID-19 Infant Feeding Working Group, based on guidance by World Health Organization (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), have similarly advised that the vaccine is not a live virus vaccine. The mRNA does not enter the cell nucleus of vaccinated individuals and is degraded quickly. Therefore, it is biologically and clinically unlikely to risk the breastfeeding child or child receiving expressed human milk.

Dr. Veronica Maria Pimentel, an expert Ob-Gyn, discussed her choice to get vaccinated with the ACOG and was quoted as saying, "My hope is that by getting vaccinated and continuing to give my baby breast milk, I'm protecting my son from COVID-19 if he is ever exposed. In fact, I was literally pumping breast milk when I got my second shot. (I love my hands-free pump!) Such is life as a working mom."

It is implausible that the world's most reputable scientific organizations and entities comprising experts who have spent their entire lives studying women and their bodies are hatching a conspiracy to convince women to do something so harmful and dangerous. In fact, it is worth questioning who profits from questioning the advice of doctors, experts, and science in general. Headlines such as the ones in the claim are highly misleading and have real-world consequences.

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