Studies Show Vaccinated Moms Can Pass COVID Antibodies to Babies Through Breast Milk

Maria Pasquini
·3 min read

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A number of new studies indicate that moms who have been vaccinated can pass along COVID-19 antibodies through their breast milk.

In a study published in February, researchers at a number of universities, including the University of Rochester Medical Center, analyzed over 30 milk samples from 18 women who had been diagnosed with COVID-19.

While two thirds of the samples were found to contain COVID antibodies, none of the samples contained the virus itself.

"These early results suggest that breast milk from mothers who have had a COVID-19 infection contains specific and active antibodies against the virus, and that they do not transfer the virus through milk. This is great news!" wrote co-author Bridget Young, an assistant professor at URMC.

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Another study published last month, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, led by Rebecca Powell, an immunologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, found similar results.

Analyzing samples from women who received both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines, researchers found significant levels of the IgA antibody, which is typically found in breastmilk and can help protect babies against respiratory tract diseases, like COVID-19.

However, Powell noted that any protection passed along to an infant is only temporary. "It's not the same as the baby getting vaccinated," she told The New York Times.

Added Dr. Antti Seppo, another researcher from URMC, "as soon as you stop feeding that breast milk, there is no protection — period." Through her research, Seppo has found that antibody levels in breast milk peak after women receive the second vaccine dose.

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Some vaccinated mothers are even going the extra mile to help out other new moms.

One North Carolina mom, who has 3-month-old twins, told The New York Times that a friend who had been vaccinated offered to share her own breast milk.

"They can't get the shot, so this is giving me a little peace of mind," Destiny Burgess told the outlet of her children.

"I feel like I have this newfound superpower," added her friend, Olivia de Soria, who is sharing her milk with a total of five families.

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Although additional research is still needed, multiple researchers expressed confidence to the Times about the safety of breast milk from vaccinated mothers.

"There is no reason to think there is anything about this vaccine that would cause it to be harmful, and there's reason to believe it would be beneficial," said Christina Chambers, co-director of San Diego's Center for Better Beginnings at the University of California.

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