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Monkeypox and breastfeeding

I sincerely hope this information is never needed but as of 6 june 2022 this is the recommendation on pregnancy and breastfeeding when a mother is suspected/proven to have monkeypox. This data is taken from the paper as below

RCOG 6 June 2022 New paper provides best practice for managing monkeypox in pregnancy (and breastfeeding) https://www.rcog.org.uk/news/new-paper-provides-best-practice-for-managing-monkeypox-in-pregnancy/

Highlights pasted from the paper below- basically we dont know about breastfeeding and the passage of monkeypox and need to protect the infant.

‘There is currently no evidence on the risk of viral transmission to the infant during breastfeeding, whether via the breast milk, direct contact with maternal skin lesions or via large droplet spread.

MVA-BN is considered safe in breastfeeding

Neonatal care

There is little evidence to guide neonatal care following the birth of a baby to a woman with monkeypox infection. Apart from macroscopic examination, the baby should undergo viral PCR testing either by throat swab or any lesions that are present. The baby should be isolated at birth from its mother and others, in a single room, with carers wearing appropriate PPE. The baby should be carefully monitored for signs of compromise or monkeypox infection. If the baby tests positive, the mother and baby can be reunited. Ideally, both mother and baby should be tested in parallel thereafter; after the mother is de-isolated (e.g. two negative PCR tests), mother and baby should be reunited. If a mother has reached a threshold to warrant PCR testing for the monkeypox virus, the baby should be isolated pending her swab result.


The proposed strategy for neonatal care would preclude most women with active monkeypox infection from breastfeeding their newborn. The WHO advises against breastfeeding; this seems reasonable in high-income country settings, such as the UK, in order to minimize the risk of neonatal monkeypox infection”

Proposed management of suspected or confirmed monkeypox infection in labor or if urgent delivery is needed.

• Advise delivery via Cesarean section

• Assess need for steroids and magnesium sulfate

• Maternity and neonatal staff to wear PPE

• Mother and baby should be isolated separately; avoid NNU admission if possible

• Mother should not breastfeed

• Encourage expressing so mother has opportunity to breastfeed after de-isolation; follow

recommendations for pump cleaning after each use

• Milk should be discarded as infected waste*

• Discuss with virologist testing needed

• If mother is negative, these precautions can be lifted

• If maternal infection confirmed, baby to be isolated for 3 weeks

• If both mother and baby test positive, they can be reunited https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/uog.24968

Monkeypox is usually a mild self-limiting illness, spread by very close contact with someone with monkeypox and most people recover within a few weeks. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/monkeypox-cases-confirmed-in-england-latest-updates


Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body including the genitals. The rash changes and goes through different stages – it can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab which later falls off.

Because the virus spreads through close contact, we are urging everyone to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service if they have any symptoms.

“A notable proportion of recent cases in the UK and Europe have been found in gay and bisexual men so we are particularly encouraging these men to be alert to the symptoms” Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser, UKHSA

UKHSA health protection teams are contacting people considered to be high-risk contacts of confirmed cases and are advising those who have been risk assessed and remain well to isolate at home for up to 21 days. In addition, UKHSA has purchased supplies of a safe smallpox vaccine (called Imvanex) and this is being offered to identified close contacts of someone diagnosed with monkeypox to reduce the risk of symptomatic infection and severe illness.

It’s very uncommon to get monkeypox from a person with the infection because it does not spread easily between people. But it can be spread through:

  • touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash
  • touching monkeypox skin blisters or scabs
  • the coughs or sneezes of a person with the monkeypox rash

For full information from the UK Government  and WHO see:

The incubation period is the duration/time between contact with the infected person and the time that the first symptoms appear. The incubation period for monkeypox is between 5 and 21 days.

Transmission can occur via the placenta from mother to fetus (which can lead to congenital monkeypox) or during close contact during and after birth.

Vaccination with smallpox vaccine during breastfeeding

MVA-BN is not contraindicated if breast-feeding. It is not known whether MVA-BN is excreted in human milk, but this is unlikely as the vaccine virus does not replicate effectively in humans. Individuals who are breast feeding and have a significant exposure to monkeypox should therefore be offered vaccination, after discussion about the risks of monkeypox to themselves and to the breast-fed child. UKHSA Recommendations for the use of pre and post exposure vaccination during a monkeypox incident May 22 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1077678/Recommendations-for-use-of-pre-and-post-exposure-vaccination-during-a-monkeypox-incident.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2mS-bJgP3LLvvzNUS5aQf4SR3ZIdvg1Fn7XAxHTe7Vpm3KTDt0JPauNbg

Further information on monkeypox infection in pregnancy