Breast Milk From Mothers Can Pass On Immunity To Babies

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : September 7, 2021

Recent research from the University of Florida said that mothers who took vaccines against the coronavirus may also pass antibodies to their newborns through their milk.

The researchers of the study said that antibodies that are passed through breast milk from mothers to babies are beneficial to the baby’s health. They added that they need to conduct further research to examine its impact.

Breast Milk From Mothers Can Pass On Immunity To Babies

The UF College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics and Division of Neonatology and this study’s co-author, Dr. Josef Neu, said that pregnant women and mothers fear getting vaccinated as they don’t trust it and want the best for their babies. The authors said that they wanted to study if there was some benefit.

Breast Milk From Mothers Can Pass On Immunity To Babies

The UF Department of Microbiology and Cell Science’s associate professor and the study’s senior author, Joseph Larkin, said that babies aren’t born with fully developed immune systems.

Infants cannot be vaccinated and are prone to infection because of low immunity. While there is no way they can be protected, breast milk functions as a toolbox that can give them protection.

The UF said that the research was started in December when vaccines against the COVID-19 were first administered to health care workers.

The study used volunteer subjects. As the vaccines were not available for common people, they studied 21 lactating moms’ breast milk and blood who worked in health care departments. They were eligible to get vaccinated against the coronavirus with Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

Larkin said that the study found that after getting vaccinated by the second dose, a mother’s breast milk reported immunoglobulin A antibodies by a hundred-fold.

He added that if breastmilk is stored and frozen and given later to the child, it’ll still carry antibodies. A pregnant woman can pass antibodies from the umbilical cord to a fetus, says many studies.

The study didn’t say the number of antibodies passed from breast milk to babies through their mothers. The researchers are still carrying on to answer questions.

Neu said that the research found that those 21 mothers who volunteered were safely vaccinated and developed immunity. Larkin and Neu stressed that their research didn’t mean to hurt people who cannot breastfeed. They only hoped this would encourage people to get vaccinated against the COVID-19.

Larkin said that mothers are protecting their children against the virus by getting vaccinated. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Neu, women who are pregnant or recently conceived are more prone to developing extreme illnesses from the coronavirus. The doctors said that the mothers are on ventilators, some have gone through preterm births, lost their children, or even died.

Neu said that many times, the lives of mothers are lost as they become sick and remain unvaccinated. This situation can be prevented.

A family in Alabama is grieving the loss of a mother and her unborn baby who lost their lives due to COVID-19 complications. Just 32 years of age, Haley Richardson, was 7 months pregnant when she was diagnosed and had to be admitted to a hospital. Her unborn baby died on 18th August and Richardson died two days later.

She worked as Florida’s Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital’s labor and delivery nurse. She has a two-year-old daughter with her husband Jordan. Jordan said that Haley fell sick after she contracted COVID-19 in July. She remained unvaccinated as she was afraid for her unborn daughter.

Suddenly her heart rate started speeding up and she was admitted to hospital and later taken to ICU in Alabama’s USA Health’s main hospital campus. After being admitted for three to four days, her obstetrician said that she was going to lose her baby. Until she got worse and died.

Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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