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Are there any infections that can pass from a nipple to a baby in breastfeeding?

Some sexually transmitted infections or medications to treat them can affect breastfeeding. There are benefits to talking to your doctor or nurse about STIs, STI medications you are taking and breastfeeding.

If you have HIVbreastfeeding is not recommended, as breast milk is one of the 5 body fluids that can carry HIV. In Manitoba, Nine Circles Community Health Centre can give you information about a provincial program available to HIV positive parents to access free formula for one year to avoid transmission through breast milk.

Syphilis or herpes can affect your breast, including your nipple and areola. These can pass from skin to skin contact, but is it not common that these are passed through contact with the nipple. If you have a sore present on the nipple, consult a clinician to determine what it is and if it impacts breastfeeding. They may advise you to pump or suggest other harm reduction methods if they determine that you have infectious sores on the nipple.

If you have chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis or HPV, you can breastfeed without worrying about transmission.