In a major revelation, researchers found that breast milk of mothers who have been administered COVID-19 vaccine contains significant amount of antibodies that protects infants from the deadly coronavirus. The study published in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine makes a strong case for pregnant and lactating mothers to get Covid 19 vaccination to protect the infants.
Senior author Joseph Larkin (associate professor at the University of Florida, US) said that their findings showed that vaccination leads to a significant increase in antibodies against Covid 19 virus in breast milk. This shows that vaccinated mothers can pass on this immunity to their babies.
When babies are born, their immune systems are underdeveloped, making 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.
Co-author Josef Neu (professor at the University of Florida) noted that during the vulnerable period breast milk allows nursing mothers to provide infants with passive immunity.
The study between December 2020 and March 2021 was held when the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines first became available to health workers in the United States. In 21 of the nursing health care workers who had never contracted COVID-19, they sampled the mothers’ breast milk and blood three times: before vaccination after the first dose and after the second dose.
The researchers said that they found a drastic antibody response in blood and breast milk after the second dose. It was about a hundred-fold increase compared with levels before vaccination. These levels were also higher than those observed after natural infection with the virus they added.
Vaccination of expectant mothers is not new. They are vaccinated against whooping cough and flu because these can be serious illnesses for infants.