Study: Breast Milk Of Vaccinated Mothers Contain Antibodies That Fight Coronavirus Infection
By now, we all are familiar with the benefits that breastmilk gives to the newborn baby. Recently, we celebrated Breastfeeding week also to spread awareness. After all these efforts, we still come across mothers who are not very keen on practicing breastfeeding. The latest development on the same might just stun them.
According to a study, there is a significant supply of antibodies against Covid-19 in the breast milk of lactating mothers who have received the Covid-19 vaccine. This can protect nursing infants from illness. Yes, the breastmilk of vaccinated mothers can now act as a barrier for their child against the deadly coronavirus.
According to the research, published in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine, it is strongly suggested that vaccines can help protect both mother and baby. This is another compelling reason for pregnant or lactating women to get jabbed.
A senior study author and an associate professor at the University of Florida, US, Joseph Larkin said, “Our findings show that vaccination results in a significant increase in antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in breast milk, suggesting that vaccinated mothers can pass on this immunity to their babies.”
Babies have underdeveloped immune systems at birth which makes it hard for them to fight infections on their own. “They are also often too young to respond adequately to certain types of vaccines”, they said.
“During this vulnerable period, breast milk allows nursing mothers to provide infants with passive immunity,” said Josef Neu, study’s co-author and a professor at the University of Florida.
“Think of breast milk as a toolbox full of all the different tools that help prepare the infant for life. Vaccination adds another tool to the toolbox, one that has the potential to be especially good at preventing Covid-19 illness,” Neu explained.
The study was conducted between December 2020 and March 2021, when the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines first became available to health care workers in the US. 21 lactating health care workers had never contracted Covid-19 included in this research. The breast milk and blood of mothers were sampled three times, that is, before vaccination, after the first dose, and after the second dose.
“We saw a robust antibody response in blood and breast milk after the second dose- about a hundred-fold increase compared with levels before vaccination,” said Lauren Stafford, a doctoral student in Larkin’s lab.
“These levels are also higher than those observed after natural infection with the virus,” added Vivian Valcarce, from the University of Florida. Vaccinating mothers to protect babies is not something new, Valcarce said.
“Typically, expectant mothers are vaccinated against whooping cough and flu because these can be serious illnesses for infants. Babies can also catch Covid-19, so routine vaccination of mothers against the virus could be something we see in the future,” he said.
The team is still exploring the process through which breast milk containing Covid-19 antibodies gained through vaccination protects babies who consume it. “We would like to know if infants who consume breast milk containing these antibodies develop their own protection against Covid-19,” Larkin said.
The researchers revealed that many other similar studies are being conducted around the world which also provides evidence for the presence of antibodies in the breastmilk of vaccinated mothers.“That means our study validates a growing body of evidence,” Neu added.
Well, this might just motivate the new moms to get vaccinated soon.