Maintaining Breastfeeding During Severe Infant and Maternal HSV-1 Infection: A Case Report.

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Spatz: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7316-6616

Publication Title

Journal of Human Lactation : Official Journal of International Lactation Consultant Association

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PubMed ID



INTRODUCTION: Childbearing women with primary or secondary Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 infection are at risk of transmitting neonatal herpes infection to their infants; a medical emergency that is associated with high mortality and morbidity. Neonatal herpes infection has been commonly associated with Herpes Simplex Virus type 2, or genital herpes, but can be caused by either subtype and the presentations are indistinguishable. This case describes the course of diagnosis, treatment, and recovery for a mother and infant during a severe maternal and neonatal herpes infection, and how lactation was maintained and breastfeeding re-established. Our children's hospital coordinated its efforts to assist and monitor this breastfeeding family, and they were able to resume breastfeeding soon after discharge. It is our opinion that it is imperative that mothers receive evidence-based lactation care to maintain their breastfeeding relationship during extended hospital stays.

MAIN ISSUE: An acutely ill infant was admitted to our urban children's hospital with severe neonatal herpes infection for a total of 3 weeks. His mother was severely affected on her breasts and she required a brief hospitalization. The mother's breasts were covered with draining herpetic lesions that required daily dressing changes. However, her lesions were slow to heal, and a wound care consultation was facilitated and her treatment plan was adjusted. We were surprised that she experienced minimal discomfort with pumping and dressing changes. The mother maintained a positive outlook, complied with the plan to express frequently to maintain milk production, and was able to breastfeed again when they both recovered.

MANAGEMENT: This mother received immediate support and appropriate pumping equipment from our hospital personnel and was subsequently able to establish and maintain her milk supply. The difficulty in this case was the management of the mother's extensive herpetic wounds that were slow to heal. A certified wound care specialist was required. Both mother and child recovered from their infections and were able to restart breastfeeding; eventually reaching their goal of breastfeeding for 2 years.

CONCLUSIONS: Neonatal herpes infection is a potentially fatal disease and maternal child health professionals should have a high suspicion for any ill-appearing newborn with or without a rash. When a breastfeeding infant and mother become infected with Herpes Simplex Virus type 1, it is the responsibility of the healthcare institution to support lactation and the return to breastfeeding rather than recommend cessation of lactation, which is rarely necessary. A multi-disciplinary evidence-based approach to lactation care is essential to preserve lactation during infant hospitalization.


Acyclovir, Antiviral Agents, Breast Feeding, Diagnosis, Differential, Female, Herpes Simplex, Herpesvirus 1, Human, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Male, Perinatal Care, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Complications, Infectious



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