Breastfeeding: Baby developed a cold sore

My two-month-old baby has developed a cold sore. Is it safe to continue nursing?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

If your baby has a cold sore it's likely you've already been exposed.

If  you developed a herpes lesion on your breast, it would need to be cultured by yourdoctor to be certain of the diagnosis. If you indeed have herpes, it is extremely important to contact your doctor immediately. Herpes can be fatal in a newborn and may be dangerouseven for older babies. It is importnat for your baby not to be in contact with any lesions. If the lesion is in a place where it can be covered, breastfeeding can continue. Regular and thorough hand washing is especially importnat during a herpes outbreak. 

Prompt treatment with acycloir reduces the time the virus is actually present in the sores, speeds the healing, lessens the disconfort, and reduces your chance of a repeat occurance. Theoretically, your baby could transmit the herpes virus from a cold sore on his mouth to your breast. The virus is spread through contact with the sores. Most likely, original transmission of the Herpes Simplex Virus, Typel, is from mom to baby.

Nearly 95 percent of adults test positive (worldwide it's 90 percent). Type l can be of the mouth "cold sore" variety OR on other body parts, including the genitals, but it is still Type l, even there. Genital Herpes (Type II) is udually located in the genital area. Type II prevalence is 20 percent overall in the US adult population.

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