Hyderabad: Lactating mothers who had received Covid vaccines can pass on their antibodies against the ailment to their babies through breast feeding, a study by researchers from University of Florida (UoF) said.
The study, which was conducted between December 2020 and March 2021, was published in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine, according to a statement from the university.
“Our findings show that vaccination results in a significant increase in antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in breast milk, suggesting that vaccinated mothers can pass on this immunity to their babies, something we are working to confirm in our ongoing research,” said Joseph Larkin III, Ph.D., senior study author and an associate professor (Microbiology and Science), University of Florida, in the statement said.
For the study, researchers recruited 21 lactating healthcare workers who had never contracted Covid-19. The research team sampled the mothers’ breast milk and blood three times- before vaccination, after the first dose and after the second dose.
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, said Josef Neu, M.D., study co-author and Professor (Paediatrics) University of Florida.
During this vulnerable period, breast milk allows nursing mothers to provide infants with passive immunity. “The results of our study strongly suggest that vaccines can help protect both mom and baby, another compelling reason for pregnant or lactating women to get vaccinated,” Neu explained.
Vaccinating mothers to protect babies is nothing new. Typically, expectant mothers are vaccinated against whooping cough and flu because these can be serious illnesses for infants. Babies can also catch Covid-19, so routine vaccination of mothers against the virus could be something we see in the future, the researchers said.
The researchers said that similar studies conducted across the world also showed antibodies in the breast milk of vaccinated mothers. “This means that our study validates a growing body of evidence,” Neu said.
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