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Schaumburg, IL (October 2002)--The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in their latest issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report state that the health benefits of breastfeeding are well established while the risk for West Nile Virus transmission through breastfeeding are unknown.

Concern had arisen in the case of a mother who apparently became infected with the virus from a blood transfusion. Later, her breastfed infant, who had little exposure to mosquitoes, was found to test positive for West Nile Virus and its antibodies. The CDC stressed that the infant has remained healthy and that no live virus has been cultured from human milk at this point.

Dr. Lyle Petersen of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was quoted in an Associated Press article stating, "If she has severe disease and cannot breastfeed easily and provide sufficient nutrition to her child, we certainly in that case recommend supplemental feeding." He continued, "On the other hand, breastfeeding has many beneficial effects…and the decision to discontinue breastfeeding is a big one."

The CDC findings suggest that breastfeeding remains the preferred method of infant feeding even in the face of maternal West Nile Virus Infection. Mothers with additional questions or concerns should contact their physicians.

La Leche League International, the world's foremost authority on breastfeeding, is the largest resource for breastfeeding and related information and products. Mothers who contact LLL find answers to their questions on breastfeeding and support from other parents. Local LLL Groups in over sixty countries meet monthly to discuss breastfeeding and related issues. La Leche League Leaders are also available by telephone to offer information and encouragement when women have questions about breastfeeding. For information about breastfeeding or to find an LLL Group in your area visit our website at or call us at (847) 519-7730.

Contact: Kim Cavaliero (847) 519-7730, ext. 233, Mary Lofton, ext. 271, or Mary Hurt, ext. 286

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