A judge in Australia has ordered a 20-year-old mother not to breastfeed her baby after she was tattooed on her finger and foot.
Matthew Myers, a Federal Circuit Court judge, said the tattoos presented an unacceptable risk that the 11-month-old boy could be infected with HIV. He said the mother had tested negative to HIV but there was still a health threat because less than three months had passed since she obtained the tattoos.
"Looking at perhaps the benefit to the child, who is 11 months old, breastfeeding, as opposed to what would be a lifelong issue in circumstances where the child contracted HIV, it is the view of the court that it is not in the best interests of the child that the mother continue to breastfeed," he said.
The woman, who has launched an urgent appeal, obtained her tattoos four weeks ago.
The ruling occurred during a custody dispute between the woman and the boy's father.
The judge relied on material published by the Australian Breastfeeding Association, which warns that HIV can be transmitted via breastmilk and that "getting tattoos increases the risk of infection".
"Although the risk of infection from getting a tattoo is low, especially if done at a reputable parlour, it is a health risk which must be carefully assessed before a breastfeeding mother, or anyone for that matter, decides to get a tattoo," the association says on its website.
However, the association said the court decision was "extremely concerning".
"As long as it [tattooing] is done in a reputable way and that the infection control procedures are followed, the risk is low and we would absolutely encourage women who have had tattoos to breastfeed their babies for as long as they choose to," Rebecca Naylor, the association's head, told ABC Radio.
"Women do need to be careful… But it doesn't mean that you have to wrap yourself in glad wrap."
Health experts said the risk of a woman in Australia passing on HIV to her baby after obtaining a tattoo was "absolutely miniscule". "The rates of HIV in Australia are very low and it's extremely common for people to get tattoos," said Dr Karleen Gribble, from the nursing school at University of Western Sydney. .
"I think that's just completely crazy."
The court said the baby's parents had both used illicit drugs and the mother admitted that she used cannabis once while breastfeeding.
Both parents presented clean drug tests.