Mothers who received coronavirus vaccination have antibodies in their breast milk that may protect their infants from COVID-19, says a new study. As part of the research, scientists obtained breast milk samples of six lactating mothers prior to the first vaccine dose, with the last sample collected at 14 days after the second vaccine dose. The group found the women had significantly elevated levels of SARS-CoV-2 specific IgG and IgA antibodies in breast milk after the initial vaccine dose.
Breast milk antibody levels declined in the weeks just prior to the second vaccine dose. But they rose sharply and remained elevated after they received the second vaccine dose. Interestingly, none of the women in the study had a history of prior COVID-19 infection.
Antibodies For COVID-19 Found In Breast Milk
Image courtesy: Pixabay
There is still no clarity on how long the antibodies will remain in the mothers or the infants. “There is more to learn,” says Dr Jason Baird, research scientist. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, two of the three current COVID-19 vaccine providers, excluded pregnant and breastfeeding women from participating in their clinical trials.
“The pilot study showed promising results worthy of continued evaluation. We are seeking additional funding that will allow us to expand the study to a larger group of participants,” said researchers at Providence Cancer Institute.
While further research needs to be done on this, vaccinated or not, breastfeeding if possible shouldn’t stop.
Continue Breastfeeding, Vaccinated Or Not
As you know, breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. Breastmilk provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life. And, it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one third during the second year of life.
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, and continuing even after solid foods are introduced. This, until at least age 1 year or until both mum and baby agree to call it quits.
More importantly, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF recommend breastfeeding within the first hour of birth and they should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life. This means that no other foods or liquids, including water, need to be provided. Infants should be breastfed on demand–that is, as often as the child wants, day and night. WHO is working to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months up to at least 50% by 2025.
From the age of 6 months, children should begin eating safe and adequate complementary foods while continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years and beyond.
5 Benefits of Breast Milk
Breastfeeding (Photo Credits: Stock)
Just to reiterate, there are several benefits of breast milk. It provides optimal nutrition for babies and has the right amount of nutrients that can easily be digested.
Ideal nutrition for babies: Breast milk contains everything a baby needs for the first 6 months of life, in all the right proportions. During the first few days after the birth, your breasts will produce a thick, and a yellowish fluid called colostrum. This is extremely high in protein and is a wonderful food for infants.
Contains essential antibodies: Breast milk is loaded with antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria, which is critical in those tender, early months.
Promotes baby’s healthy weight: Breastfeeding promotes healthy weight gain and helps prevent childhood obesity.
Helps fight against infection: Babies who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months have a lower risk of getting any infection.
Reduces the risk of childhood leukemia: Breastfeeding is also linked to a reduction of risk of childhood leukaemia.
It doesn’t stop here, there are several benefits in store for you as well if you decide to breastfeed.
How Breastfeeding Benefits The Mum
Breastfeeding can help to contract the uterus (Photo Credits: Pixabay)
Contracts your uterus: As you know, during pregnancy your uterus grows in size. The oxytocin hormone that increases during breastfeeding encourages uterine contractions and reduces bleeding, helping the uterus to return to its previous size.
Lowers the risk of depression: Post-delivery, mothers struggle with postpartum depression. According to a 2012 study, women who breastfed are less likely to develop postpartum depression, compared to those women who didn’t.
COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of people across the world and the numbers continue to rise. While the study conducted by Providence Institute is on a small group, the promising result that breastfed infants of vaccinated mothers will receive some protection is a ray of hope, especially since there is no vaccination for this age group.