The bitten mum unknowingly fed the baby poisoned milk. Picture iStock
The bitten mum unknowingly fed the baby poisoned milk. Picture iStock

Breastfeeding mum, baby die from snake bite

A 35-YEAR-OLD mum and her three-year-old have died from a bite from a poisonous snake.

The woman, who is from Uttar Pradesh in India, was bitten by a venomous snake in her sleep but didn't notice the bite.

When she woke to breastfeed her three-year-old daughter, she had no idea the milk was tainted with poison.

They headed to hospital too late

On Thursday the mum and daughter became ill and they were rushed to hospital but died en route, police inspector Vijay Singh told AFP.

The family spotted the snake in another room of the house, but it escaped before it could be caught.

The death has been registered as accidental and a post-mortem will be carried out on the bodies.

Of India's 300 snake species, 60 are highly venomous. That includes the Indian cobra, krait, Russell's viper and saw-scaled viper.

According to a study by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Indians suffer from 46 per cent of snakebite deaths around the world.

Sixty of India's 300 snake species are highly venomous, including the Indian cobra. Picture: iStock
Sixty of India's 300 snake species are highly venomous, including the Indian cobra. Picture: iStock

Can snake venom really be transmitted through breastmilk?

An article by researchers at the University of Medical Sciences in Tehran says it's not easy to say.

"... snake venom contains various types of proteins, enzymes, lipids, carbohydrates ... However it is not know whether these ingredients transfer into a mother's breast milk," the study says.

"... even if some of the venom's compounds become ingredients in the bitten mother's milk, it is unclear how the breastfed child's [body] will react."

The study refers to an article that reports protein toxins don't degrade in breast milk, suggesting that the venom's protein compounds would likely reach the child.

The article is inconclusive but cautions against encouraging a nursing mother to breastfeed after a snake bite.  "... it seems that properly designed studies need to be conducted on this important topic before any firm recommendation is made." 

This story originally appeared on Kidspot and has been republished with permission.