- Study found antibodies in breast milk up to 10 months after infection
- While children are comparatively safe from COVID, 10% still require hospital care
- Breastmilk antibodies could be used to develop new COVID treatment for adults
A US study suggests that new mothers who have survived Covid can pass antibodies to their babies through their breast milk for up to 10 months.
Researchers collected milk donated by 75 women who had recovered from the virus and screened them for virus-fighting proteins.
They found that 88 percent of them tested positive for an antibody that prevents the virus from causing respiratory tract infections.
Further laboratory tests showed that most COVID-positive milk samples neutralized the virus, suggesting that breastfed babies receive at least partial protection.
Academics at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York said further work is being done to see if immunity can be passed on through breastmilk after vaccination.
The study was done in March, before vaccines were routinely being administered to pregnant American women or women of childbearing age.
This follows a study last week that found that pregnant women who have had the COVID vaccine protect their unborn babies in the womb.
A study has found that mothers previously infected with Kovid can help protect their babies from the virus for up to 10 months, through special antibodies. Now researchers are perfecting whether these special antibodies can be used to develop new treatments to help protect adults from the virus (stock image)
In the latest study, researchers found that mothers consistently produced a COVID antibody, called immunoglobin A, over time.
They compared milk samples taken from 28 women, one four to six weeks after the Covid infection and the other four to 10 months later.
The study found that women exhibited ‘significant’ levels of antibodies during this period.
Immunoglobin A is a special type of antibody found in human secretions, such as breast milk, and provides protection primarily through the lining of the airways and digestive tract.
Are Covid vaccines safe for pregnant women and how many have taken the jab?
How many pregnant women have been vaccinated against Kovid?
Data from Public Health England (PHE) shows pregnant women in the UK are still hesitant to get a jab, with only 10 per cent coming forward for an appointment by the end of July – the most recent date available for the data.
Some 51,724 pregnant women in England had received at least one dose, while 20,648 women had received two.
Is there any risk to the mother or the baby of taking Jab?
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all pregnant women accept the offer of the Kovid vaccine.
All major studies show that pregnant women are just as safe as non-pregnant populations when it comes to pregnancy.
And no evidence that vaccines have any negative effects on unborn babies has been recorded in vaccinated mothers, with birth defects or spikes in stillbirths.
Data on safety among pregnant women at the start of the year was sparse, meaning they were not added to the list of people allowed to jab in England until April.
JCVI decided to wait for the data from the US to be filtered before making the call.
In early April, that data came in the form of a major study published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It had tracked the status of more than 90,000 pregnant women who were vaccinated, most of them in their third trimester.
The CDC was able to report that there were no security concerns.
Since then, the number of pregnant American women who have been vaccinated has grown to more than 105,000. However, the finer data released from within that study sparked new concerns.
The CDC closely monitored more than 800 participants. Of that group, 712 had a live birth, while 115 had a pregnancy loss.
It is different from immunoglobulin G, a type of antibody found mainly in the blood and triggered by infection or vaccination.
The researchers also noted that almost half of the women’s milk had higher concentrations of COVID antibodies over time.
This finding was unusual because antibodies in the blood are known to decrease over time.
Dr. Rebecca Powell presented the research findings: Global Breastfeeding and Breastfeeding Symposium on 21st September.
NS Guardian Dr Powell said that breastmilk COVID antibodies could also offer a novel way to protect adults from the virus.
“This can be an incredible therapy, because secretory IgA is in these mucosal areas, such as the lining of the respiratory tract, and it survives and functions very well there,” she said.
‘You can imagine that if it were used in a nebulizer-type treatment, it could be very effective during a window where the person has become quite ill, but they are not at this point yet [being admitted to intensive care].’
Powell’s team is also exploring the relationship between mothers receiving different COVID vaccines and the level of antibodies produced in breast milk.
This comes after a New York University study found that pregnant women who have had the COVID vaccine protect their unborn babies.
Researchers took blood samples from 36 babies given to mothers given the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
The results showed that all of them had antibodies fighting the coronavirus. The study found that the placenta of mothers in the second half of pregnancy had the highest levels of antibodies in the blood.
Experts said the results were not as surprising as it is with other jabs.
But he stressed that the findings prove that vaccines have the ‘power to protect two people at once by preventing serious disease in both mothers and children’.
Dr Ashley Roman, an obstetrician at NYU and one of the lead authors, said: ‘If babies can be born with antibodies, it could protect them in their first months of life, …