Illustration of woman with a mask breastfeeding an infant
Photo Credit: USAID Advancing Nutrition

USAID Advancing Nutrition hosts the web platform for the COVID-19 Infant Feeding Research Interest Group, as an active member and sub-group co-chair.

Background

In response to concerns about the potential impact of SARS-COV-2 in human milk, staff from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health convened a group of scientists, agencies, and organizations to answer core questions about the transmission of SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19) via human milk/breastfeeding. This group, the COVID-19 Infant Feeding Research Interest Group (CIF-RIG), meets monthly to discuss research and evidence related to infant feeding practices and COVID-19. As a member, USAID Advancing Nutrition supports the CIF-RIG’s efforts by coordinating the monthly meetings, contributing technical content and expertise, and hosting this web platform for sharing information, events, and resources.

The ongoing COVID-19 is accompanied by a flood of information, making the need for timely, clear, evidence-based guidance for frontline health providers and families critical. As researchers work to better understand the virus and how it is transmitted, translating research into actionable guidance is imperative.

The Purpose of CIF-RIG

The CIF-RIG represents an informal multidisciplinary collaboration of international experts from around the world focused on the identification of research needs and what current and emerging research tells us about safe infant feeding practices during this pandemic. The CIF-RIG meets monthly and provides a venue for sharing, learning, and engaging with participating members, agencies, organizations, academics, and civil society on the state of research and evidence, as it relates to infant feeding practices and COVID-19.

The CIF-RIG focuses on four key objectives:

  1. Harmonize the state of the science and best practices with regard to current approaches to study the biology and impact of the virus
  2. Identify priority research questions
  3. Collect, collate, and share extant and evolving data on the virus and its implications
  4. Support efforts to develop useful and clear messages targeting improved public health and evidence-based standards of care

Shortly after the initiation of the CIF-RIG, the World Health Organization (WHO) Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (MNCAH) initiated the COVID-19 Research Network to collaborate on research needs in response to the pandemic, including infant feeding. The CIF-RIG and WHO MNCAH Research Network joined efforts as the COVID-19 Infant Feeding Working Group (CIF-WG).

The Purpose of the CIF-WG

The CIF-WG was created to broaden engagement and focus on projects to support the same four key objectives of the CIF-RIG (i.e., harmonize, prioritize, share, and communicate). Its three sub-groups—technical, literature collation, and communications-—are overseen by a steering committee. The CIF-WG develops and implements projects to produce outputs that reflect the continuum from research to translation. USAID Advancing Nutrition co-chairs the Communications Sub-group and disseminates CIF-WG outputs and resources. Learn more about the organization of the CIF-RIG and CIF-WG or download the fact sheet here.

Interested in Getting Involved?

Join the monthly CIF-Research Interest Group information-sharing sessions or become a member.

The CIF-RIG hosts monthly one-hour information-sharing and learning sessions that include:

  1. Informal updates on CIF-WG projects
  2. Presentations from the field on the state of research and evidence on infant feeding and COVID-19
  3. Updates from the WHO MNCAH Research Network

Recent topics include sampling and analysis of human milk for SARS-CoV-2, including immune responses; validation of protocols for biosample collections; public health approaches and programmatic responses to COVID-19 and infant feeding; and how messaging and implementation strategies need to change as the evidence mounts. Anyone interested in attending these sessions is welcome. Register today.

Upcoming Sessions: Save the Date

  • March 5th at 10am EST: Overview of Current COVID-19 Vaccine and Breastfeeding Guidance

CIF-RIG Meeting Resources

February 5, 2021—"COVID-19 Vaccines Brief Update and Call for Research Presentations; Milk Banks"

December 4, 2020—"Findings From the COVID Mothers Study” by Melissa Bartick Lori Feldman-Winter and "Revisiting Koch's Postulate to Determine the Plausibility of Viral Transmission in Human Milk," by Philippe van de Perre"

October 30, 2020—"Voices from the Field/Infant Feeding and COVID-19 Misinformation Panel Session"

Sign Up for CIF-WG News and Updates

Stay abreast of the key findings from emerging and evolving research to ensure your infant and young child feeding programs, guidelines, and policies align with current evidence and recommended practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. Subscribe today.

Access or sign up to receive weekly overviews of peer-reviewed journal articles on COVID-19, Maternal and Child Health, and Nutrition and bi-weekly overviews on COVID-19, Breastfeeding, Infant Feeding, and Breast Milk from Johns Hopkins University.

Other COVID-19 and Breastfeeding Resources

Acknowledgement

This content was prepared on behalf of the COVID-19 Infant Feeding Working Group. Members include representatives from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, University of Texas-Austin, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Human Milk Banking Association of North America, Johns Hopkins University, Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin, National Institutes of Health, PACT, PATH, UNICEF, USAID, USAID Advancing Nutrition, University of Idaho, University of Washington, and the World Health Organization. The contents do not necessarily reflect the views of the CIF-WG members or their organizations.