A vaccine that protects mother and child? Women vaccinated against covid and breastfeeding transmit the antibodies to their babies, according to a study conducted at Washington University of Medicine (United States) and published on March 30 in theAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The antibodies produced in response to the anti-covid vaccine would indeed pass in significant quantities into breast milk.

Antibodies from the 1st dose

This study involved five mothers, who provided samples of breast milk to researchers before and after receiving the Pfizer covid vaccine. The scientists then measured the levels of antibodies in the milk before the vaccination, and then every week for up to 80 days after the first injection.

Result: Breast milk contains high levels of anti-covid antibodies immediately after the first dose of vaccine. And the antibodies reach immune-significant levels within 14 to 20 days of the first vaccination in all participants.

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Protection of at least 3 months

And this over a long period of time, according to the researchers: “throughout the study, which lasted nearly three months“says Professor Jeannie Kelly, co-author of the study, in a press release from the university. And “protection probably lasts even longer“she advances.

The children of the participants – aged one month to two years at the start of the study – will therefore all have received high levels of antibodies while consuming this milk and acquired immunity against covid.

Indeed, “these antibodies line babies’ mouths and throats when they drink breast milk and protect them against disease “ says Professor Kelly.

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A mechanism observed with other vaccines

So, “getting vaccinated while breastfeeding protects not only mom, but also baby for months“summarizes the specialist in obstetrics and gynecology.

The only downside: the study is limited to a very small number of participants. If the results are encouraging, they must now be confirmed in studies conducted on a large number of breastfeeding women.

But in theory, the transfer of immune protection via breast milk makes perfect sense and has already been observed with other vaccines. Breast milk, for example, contains high levels of antibodies up to six months after vaccination of the mother against influenza or against whooping cough, recall the authors of the study.

Pregnant women too?

With anti-covid vaccines, an immune benefit also occurs during pregnancy. Studies have already shown that the antibodies produced by a vaccinated pregnant woman pass through the placenta and protect the unborn child.

A double protection which explains the advice of Professor Kelly: “I recommend that my pregnant and breastfeeding patients get vaccinated as soon as possible. “In France, the Haute Autorité de Santé has recommended that pregnant women be vaccinated against covid-19 since March 2, 2021.