Usually, mothers with hepatitis can breast-feed, although if the disease is in the active phase the mother may feel very ill and will require close support, regardless of whether she wishes to continue or stop breast-feeding. No evidence indicates that breast-feeding increases a baby’s risk of contracting hepatitis B infection: the infant would have already been exposed to the mother’s blood and vaginal secretions during delivery.
If a mother is diagnosed with hepatitis while she is pregnant or lactating, her baby can be vaccinated at birth or diagnosis, which enables breast-feeding to continue without interruption. The risk of transmitting hepatitis C through breast milk is considered minimal, especially if the disease is inactive and the mother is asymptomatic. However, if the mother is in an active phase, breast-feeding should be suspended (milk can be expressed and discarded, to maintain lactation so that feeding can resume once she is well). Little is known about the transmission of hepatitis D, E, F and G through breast milk and whether feeding offers any protection.
Resource US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/BREASTFEEDING/disease/hepatitis.htm. Accessed 12 Nov 2009.
From: Journal of Family Health Care Bulletin. Directory of Breast-Feeding Advice. December 2009. Published with JFHC 2009; 19(6). http://www.jfhc.co.uk/images/stories/breastfeeding.pdf