Breastfed babies are getting Covid-19 antibodies from vaccinated moms

The antibodies could protect babies until infant vaccines are approved.

Breastfed babies are getting Covid-19 antibodies from vaccinated moms.
@rohane/Twenty20

Breastfeeding your baby could help protect them during the pandemic. Some early research has found that vaccinated moms are passing Covid-19 antibodies to their babies through breastmilk.

A new study from doctors in Massachusetts tracked 131 women, 84 of whom were pregnant and 31 who were lactating. They found that vaccine-induced antibodies were present in all cord blood and almost all breastmilk samples they took.

There's been a lot of debate surrounding Covid-19 vaccines for pregnant women, in part due to changing recommendations and guidelines. But Dr. Brenna Hughes, a Duke University researcher and maternal-fetal medicine specialist, told the Washington Post that the study could be a point in their favor. "Worries about possible risk and harm may be proven quite the opposite," she said. "In fact, it may be proven that the vaccines actually provide protection to the developing fetus."

Past studies have also shown that women who have Covid-19 antibodies from contracting the virus are passing along protection to their newborns as well. But doctors from the Massachusetts study noted that the protection passed along by vaccinated mothers was significantly higher than those who had antibodies from becoming infected.

Researchers will next begin studying how effective the protection being passed from mothers to babies is, and how long it might last. Being born with antibodies could help babies safely bridge the gap until they are able to get vaccinated themselves. Vaccine trials have already begun for babies as young as six months old.

Babies are so vulnerable when they're first born, and knowing mothers may be able to offer them some protection from the virus could be hugely reassuring to those who are expecting. Many more studies will be needed before doctors can draw definitive conclusions about Covid-19 antibodies and babies, but the breastfeeding study could be one more ray of light at the end of the tunnel.

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