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Can breast milk transmit chicken pox?

Q: My 24 years old wife delivered twins last year. She is suffering from fever these days and looks like she is developing chicken pox. Her sister, who stays with us, also has chicken pox. My sons are on breast feed. I would like to know whether she can continue breast feeding them or not? Can chicken pox transmit though breast feed?

A:If your wife has had chicken pox before she will be protected and pass on the antibodies passively to the babies also (for the first 3-4 months). However I suggest both the mother and the babies be given Chickenpox immunoglobulin which will protect against or at least make the disease less severe. The babies especially need to be protected. The lady who has chicken pox has to be isolated. The disease if it occurs in infants can be very severe. Breast milk does not transmit virus but direct contact with mother if she develops chickenpox may infect babies. Contact your paediatrician / gynaecologist for immunoglobulin immediately.

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