New COVID-19 vaccine shows that mothers pass antibodies to babies in breast milk

KAMC News

LUBBOCK, Texas — A recent study released by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, found that vaccinated pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers pass along COVID-19 antibodies to their babies.

This information is crucial for helping breastfeeding mothers and pregnant women make decisions for both their personal health and their baby’s.

“We have had some mothers that have decided to get the vaccine, we’ve had some mothers that have decided to hold off,” said Angela Westfall, Lactation Consultant at Covenant Health.

With pregnant women and breastfeeding moms left out of the initial vaccine trials, many have been debating getting vaccinated.

“We feel like our place is just empowering mothers to look at the information and make the best decision for them,” said Westfall. “Because the same decision is not the best for everybody necessarily.”

The recent study vaccinated 131 pregnant, lactating and non-pregnant women with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. 

“It’s very clear that immunization of a pregnant mom transmits the, first of all safety for the mom, and then also transmits the safety protection to babies in utero,” said Chief Medical Officer of UMC Dr. Mike Ragain.

The study cited that antibodies were found in the umbilical cord of all samples tested – allowing both the pregnant mother and her baby to benefit from the vaccine.

“They also detected presence of antibodies in the breast milk,” said Dr. Ragain. “When babies are breastfeeding, they get some of their immune support from the mom’s breast milk, especially early on. And so that’s really a good sign.”

However, the study’s relatively small size still leaves some questions on how safe the vaccine is for pregnant and breastfeeding moms.

“This study was designed to say, does it work? Yes, it does work. Then the question is, is it harmful? And we don’t know the answer to that fully yet,” said Dr. Ragain.

Dr. Ragain explained that the previous vaccine trials have given us promising information so far about overall vaccine safety for the general public — and he hopes that will transfer over to pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. 

COVID-19 has already proven to be dangerous for pregnant women and can even put them in the hospital. Although it will take a lot more studies to concretely answer the question of vaccine safety, this is a step in the right direction.

“The best thing to do is talk with their personal physician, because that personal physician knows their history so well,” said Westfall. 

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