“The research suggests babies may be protected from COVID-19 by acquisition of antibodies through breast milk following their mothers’ vaccinations,” Dr. Jason Baird, research scientist, said on Providence.org. “We don’t know how long the antibodies will remain in the mothers or the infants. There is more to learn.”
The pilot study, conducted at Providence Portland Medical Center, looked at six lactating women who planned to receive both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine between December 2020 and January 2021.
There were significantly elevated levels of antibodies in their breast milk beginning at Day 7 after the initial vaccine dose, according to the study.
According to Providence.org, the study “provides promising results of a potential immune benefit for infants by lactating mothers who have received a COVID-19 vaccine.”
Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, two of the three current COVID-19 vaccine providers, excluded pregnant and breastfeeding women from participating in their clinical trials.
“To our knowledge, this study is the first to show that maternal vaccination results in SARS-CoV-2-specific immunoglobulins in breast milk that may be protective for infants,” said Bernard Fox, Ph.D. with the Providence Health and Services, a nonprofit health care system.
The researchers involved in the study plan to continue studying the immune response following maternal vaccination.
“Research on SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in lactating women and the potential transmission of passive immunity to the infant through breast milk is needed to guide patients, clinicians and policy makers during the worldwide effort to curb the spread of this virus,” the study stated.
There are more than 28 million COVID-19 cases in the U.S, with an average of about 2,000 people dying each day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That average is down from a high of more than 3,000 a day on average in mid-January. A total of more than 520,000 people have died in the U.S. so far.