Human papillomavirus or HPV is a sexually transmitted infection or STI with links to some types of cancer, including cervical and throat cancer. Breastfeeding women may worry about spreading the virus to babies through breast milk.

But, for most women with HPV, breastfeeding is safe, and the benefits outweigh any potential risks.

In this article, learn more about the safety and risks, as well as how HPV is transmitted.

Breastfeeding mother who may be worried about hpv
Most women with HPV can continue to breastfeed.

Human papillomavirus or HPV is that almost all sexually active people contract the virus at some point.

It does not usually cause severe symptoms in an infected person. However, some strains of HPV are for several types of cancer.

that HPV is responsible for:

  • 90 percent of cervical and anal cancers
  • 70 percent of cancers of the vagina and vulva
  • 60 percent of penile cancers

Despite these risks, few organizations have issued official guidelines about breastfeeding with HPV, possibly because HPV is very common, and the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks. No organization recommends avoiding breastfeeding because of HPV.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urge mothers to breastfeed or must use particular drugs and medications. The AAP also emphasize that breastfeeding offers numerous health benefits, especially to vulnerable or sick infants and preterm babies. Additionally, it can save money and support long-term health in the breastfeeding woman.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' say that HPV is not a reason to avoid breastfeeding.

found that 45 percent of pregnant women had HPV. Abstaining from breastfeeding because of HPV would significantly reduce the overall breastfeeding rate. Breastfeeding is the healthiest option for a baby and can support long-term public health.

The include:

  • lower rates of certain chronic diseases, including diabetes and obesity, in both the woman and baby
  • fewer infections in the baby
  • lower risk of some types of cancer
  • improved development in the baby
  • lower risk of heart disease and high cholesterol

According to the , breast milk is the ideal source of nutrition for infants. The organization recommend exclusive breastfeeding with no other sources of nutrition for about 6 months. After that, babies should continue breastfeeding until they are at least 12 months old if desired.

A vaccination is the best option for preventing HPV.

There is no cure for HPV, but treatment is available if the virus causes any symptoms. Most people with HPV have no signs, and it usually goes away on its own. If HPV causes genital warts, a doctor can prescribe treatment.

While safe sex practices can reduce the spread of the virus, they are not a fail-safe method of prevention. The best option for preventing HPV is having a vaccination against the virus.

recommend giving the vaccine to breastfeeding women 26 years old and younger when they have not previously received a vaccination.

The latent virus used in the HPV vaccine will not cause HPV to develop in breast milk and will not spread HPV to a breastfeeding baby.

Parents and caregivers should also consider vaccinating their children — both boys and girls — against HPV. The recommend vaccinating children between the ages of 11 and 12 years old.