- HPV affects a large number of adults.
- Passing HPV to your baby through breastfeeding is highly unlikely.
- Breastfeeding provides benefits for both mom and baby.
Breastfeeding has numerous health benefits. It’s also a way for you to connect with your baby. But if you have human papillomavirus (HPV), you may be concerned about whether you can safely breastfeed.
HPV is a very common sexually transmitted infection that affects a large number of adults. It’s estimated that over 80 percent of women will get at least one type of HPV in their lifetime.
Read on to learn about the safety of breastfeeding with HPV, as well as the benefits of breastfeeding your child.
The good news is that at this time, no research findings suggest that women with HPV should avoid breastfeeding. It’s widely recognized that passing HPV to your baby through breastfeeding is highly unlikely.
In fact, the antibodies in your breast milk can protect your baby from many other illnesses and health complications.
While no official medical recommendations are available regarding breastfeeding for women with HPV, studies seem to show that the benefits of breastfeeding with HPV likely outweigh its risks.
Although some findings suggest a link between HPV transmission and breastfeeding, researchers haven’t found any conclusive evidence.
Researchers in one 2008 study reported a statistically significant association between certain HPV strains and breastfeeding that caused oral infection of HPV in a child. However, two years later, researchers refuted this research and concluded that there isn’t any evidence that you should avoid breastfeeding if you have HPV.
More recent research also reports that it’s unlikely that HPV passes to a child through breastfeeding. Researchers in a 2011 study concluded that the likelihood of a mother passing HPV to her child through breast milk is low. And a 2017 study found no evidence of transmission of HPV from mother to child.
Pros of breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding can be a bonding experience for you and your baby.
- Babies who breastfeed are less likely to develop certain illnesses.
- Breastfeeding can help new mothers recover from childbirth faster.
- Breastfeeding may reduce a mother’s risk of certain diseases.
When considering breastfeeding with HPV, the potential risk of HPV transmission isn’t the only thing to think about. It’s also important to look at the benefits of breastfeeding.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other doctors and medical groups encourage breastfeeding. This is for several reasons, including that the mother passes health benefits on to her baby through her breast milk.
Breastfed babies are less likely to experience pneumonia, colds, or respiratory viruses. They’re also less likely to develop a gastrointestinal infection, such as diarrhea. Breastfed babies also have a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Breastfeeding can also benefit mothers. If you breastfeed your baby, you may recover from childbirth more quickly. This is true because your body releases the hormone oxytocin during breastfeeding. Oxytocin works to help the uterus return to its regular size. It can also reduce postpartum bleeding.
There’s little evidence to suggest that it’s harmful to breastfeed your child if you have HPV, and there are many known benefits of breastfeeding.
However, if you have HPV and you’re still weighing the pros and cons of breastfeeding, talk with your doctor. They can answer any questions you may have and advise you on whether breastfeeding might be a good choice for you.