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Is It Safe to Breast-Feed If You Have Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?

Overview

hpv and breastfeeding

Highlights

  1. HPV affects a large number of adults.
  2. Passing HPV to your baby through breast-feeding is highly unlikely.
  3. Breast-feeding provides benefits for both mom and baby.

Breast-feeding has numerous health benefits. It’s also a way for you to connect with your baby. If you have human papillomavirus (HPV), you may be concerned about breast-feeding. This very common sexually transmitted infection 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.

At this time, no research findings suggest that women with HPV should avoid breast-feeding. It’s widely recognized that passing HPV to your baby through breast-feeding is highly unlikely. In fact, the antibodies in your breast milk can protect your baby from many other illnesses and health complications.

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Benefits

What are the benefits of breast-feeding?

Pros
  1. Breast-feeding can be a bonding experience for you and your baby.
  2. Babies who breast-feed are less likely to develop certain illnesses.
  3. Breast-feeding can help new mothers recover from childbirth faster.

Many doctors and medical groups advocate breast-feeding. This is because the mother passes health benefits on to her baby through her breast milk.

Breast-fed babies are less likely to experience pneumonia, colds, or viruses. They’re also less likely to develop a gastrointestinal infection, such as diarrhea. Breast-fed babies also have a reduced risk for sudden infant death syndrome.

Breast-feeding can also benefit you. If you breast-feed your baby, you may recover from childbirth more quickly. Your body releases the hormone oxytocin during breast-feeding. It works to help the uterus return to its regular size. It can also reduce postpartum bleeding.

Mothers who breast-feed may have a reduced risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Breast-feeding may also reduce your risk of developing:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol

Breast-feeding as birth control »

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Research

What the research says

No official medical recommendations regarding breast-feeding if you have HPV are available. In most cases, HPV will not manifest as something serious.

Although some findings suggest that a link between HPV and breast-feeding, researchers haven’t found any conclusive evidence. Researchers in one 2008 study concluded that there was a statistically significant association between certain HPV strains and breast-feeding that caused oral infection of HPV in a child. Two years later, researchers refuted this research and concluded that there isn’t any evidence that you should avoid breast-feeding if you have HPV.

Researchers in a more recent study concluded that the likelihood of a mother passing HPV to her child through breast milk is low. The researchers found no evidence of a transmission of HPV from mother to child.

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Takeaway

The bottom line

There’s little evidence to suggest that it’s harmful to breast-feed your child if you have this. If you have HPV and you’re concerned about breast-feeding, talk with your doctor. They can answer any questions you may have and advise you on your next steps.

Keep reading: Exclusive breast-feeding: How long is recommended? »

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