A judge banned a 20-year-old Australian mom from breastfeeding her 11-month-old because she got a tattoo four weeks earlier.
The issue was first brought up in court after the baby’s father raised concerns. According to Federal Circuit Court Judge Matthew Myers, the tattoos presented a risk that the baby boy could be infected with HIV.
Despite the fact that the mother, known as Ms. Jackson, tested negative for the disease, the court was adamant that there was a health threat because Jackson had the tattoos for less than three months.
Despite the court’s ruling, many experts agreed that the risk of a baby contracting an infection was extremely low. “As long as [the tattooing] is done in 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, head of Australian Breastfeeding Association, told ABC Radio.
Dr. Karleen Gribble, a breastfeeding advocate from the University of Western Sydney, agreed. “I’m only aware of one case where somebody contracted HIV from tattooing and that was somebody who’d got a tattoo in Bali, not somebody who’d gotten it in Australia,” she said. “I think when it comes to mothers and breastfeeding, we need to consider that mothers are people, they do things.”
Since the ruling, Jackson launched an urgent appeal and on Friday, a family court overturned the decision. Family court judge Murray Aldridge said that Judge Meyers based his decision on evidence that “should not have been relied upon.”
“Judges must not mistake their own views for being either facts not reasonably open to question or as appropriately qualified expert evidence,” Aldridge said. “That those views may have been obtained by the judge searching the internet compounds, rather than alleviates, the difficulty.”
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