Can breast milk transfer malaria parasites from a mother to the child?
No. Malaria parasites cannot be transferred via breast milk. However, there is evidence that some antimalarial drugs can pass through breast milk, with unknown effects on the infant; as such, it is not recommended that breast feeding mothers take certain antimalarial drugs.
Studies in rats have also shown that antibodies to malaria can pass from a mother to her infant via breast milk although it is unclear what level of protection this confers on the infant; children under five are generally much more susceptible to malaria infection than older children and adults, due to their lower levels of acquired immunity, and so young children should be protected from exposure as much as possible, for example by having them sleep under long-lasting insecticide treated bednets when in high-transmission zones for malaria.