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Food-borne and Waterborne Illness

Should a woman experiencing "traveler's diarrhea" breastfeed her child while she is ill?

Yes. In fact, a nursing mother with diarrhea believed to have been caused by food or water sources should be encouraged to increase the frequency of breastfeeding while significantly increasing her own fluid intake.

Exclusive breastfeeding protects infants against travelers’ diarrhea. Breastfeeding is ideal rehydration therapy. Children who are suspected of having travelers’ diarrhea should breastfeed more frequently. Children in this situation should not be offered other fluids or foods that replace breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding mothers with travelers’ diarrhea should continue breastfeeding and increase their own fluid intake. The organisms that cause travelers’ diarrhea do not pass through breast milk. Use of oral rehydration salts by breastfeeding mothers and their children is fully compatible with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding mothers should carefully check the labels of over-the-counter antidiarrheal medications to avoid using bismuth subsalicylate compounds, which can lead to the transfer of salicylate to the child via breast milk. Fluoroquinolones and macrolides, which are commonly used to treat travelers’ diarrhea, are excreted in breast milk. The decision about the use of antibiotics such as fluoroquinolones and macrolides in nursing mothers should be made in consultation with the child’s primary health care provider. Most experts consider the use of short-term azithromycin compatible with breastfeeding.

Source: NCID Yellow Book

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