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For Release:  January 5, 2010 
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
(405) 271-5601

Breastfeeding Protects Babies During Flu Season

Breastfeeding is an important way to safeguard infant health during flu season, when colds and respiratory infections are common.  Data on calls to the Oklahoma Breastfeeding Hotline, 1-877-271-MILK (6455), show there has been a surge in questions related to whether mothers should continue to breastfeed when sick with the flu. 

Registered Lactation Consultant and Oklahoma Breastfeeding Hotline Coordinator Cristina Pickle says, “Yes, mothers provide immunity that only they can give their babies when they breastfeed.  Exclusive breastfeeding conveys the greatest amount of protection. ”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a mother with seasonal or H1N1 flu should drink plenty of fluids, rest, continue to breastfeed, and monitor herself for any fever. Mothers should wash hands often and wear masks when nursing their babies, to prevent sharing the virus with their babies. If symptoms worsen, mothers should contact their health care providers.  

Other common flu-related questions include safety of flu vaccines and treatments. Breastfeeding mothers can safely receive the seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines and are included in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) priority groups, along with pregnant women. Most flu treatments are safe to take while breastfeeding. For specific medication questions, mothers can call the Oklahoma Breastfeeding Hotline or their health care provider. A Registered Lactation Consultant can be reached by calling the toll free Oklahoma Breastfeeding Hotline at 1-877-271-MILK (6455).  The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health urges mothers, health care workers, and communities at large to promote, support, and encourage breastfeeding, which provides infants with antibodies that can help fight illness and disease.

For more information on H1N1 Flu/ Seasonal Flu and Breastfeeding Your Baby, view the OSDH Breastfeeding Information and Support Website: http://bis.health.ok.gov .

For more information about the flu and vaccine information, contact the toll free H1N1 Hotline@ 1-866-278-7134 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or view the website: http://www.health.ok.gov , and click on H1N1 Flu Updates & Alerts.

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