There is no vaccine available for kids below the age of 15 years and therefore they remain vulnerable, especially because of the Omicron variant. However, infants have an advantage if they have access to mother’s milk and their mothers are vaccinated. A new study has found that mothers who are vaccinated against COVID-19 can transfer SARS-CoV-2 antibodies to infants while breastfeeding them. This can provide infants and toddlers passive immunity against COVID-19. The study, done by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, was published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. The researchers reached this conclusion after measuring the immune response to the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine in the breast milk of mothers as well as the stools of breastfed infants.
According to lead author Vignesh Narayanaswamy, this was the first research to detect COVID-19 antibodies in stool samples of infants who are breastfed by vaccinated mothers.
“This is really important because women want to know whether their babies have these antibodies, and our study shows that antibodies are being transferred via breast milk. Providing this compelling evidence is a motivation for women to continue breastfeeding after they receive the vaccine,” Narayanaswamy was quoted as saying in media reports.
According to Narayanaswamy, they found antibodies in infants regardless of the age of infants. They had collected samples in the age group of 1.5 months to 23 months. Around third lactating women from across the United States were part of the study. Most of them were healthcare workers and got inoculated against COVID-19 between January and April 2021. Their breast milk samples were taken both before they were vaccinated and two to three weeks after getting first dose. The samples were also collected three weeks after the second dose.
The study also found that infants of mothers who feel sick from the vaccine had greater antibodies.