Since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, headlines have been full of fluids. There are droplets sprayed when we talk or cough, nasal secretions swabbed for testing, and blood checked for antibodies. But some scientists have focused on a different bodily product: breast milk.
Unlike the others, milk is a fluid made for sharing. That has raised urgent questions about its safety during the crisis, for mothers feeding babies as well as for milk banks handling donations. When an advisory panel for Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, which manages milk banking as well as blood donation, met in March, “there was a lot that was still unknown about Covid-19,” Laura Klein, a research fellow with the organization, wrote via email. “We didn’t know then if the virus could be transmitted through breast milk,” as some other viruses, including HIV and cytomegalovirus, can.
If the virus lurked in breast milk, should infected mothers give