In one of the largest studies of its kind to date, researchers have found that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have been highly efficient in the production of antibodies against the virus in pregnant and lactating women. To their astonishment, researchers have also found that the vaccines were able to provide protective immunity to newborns through breastmilk and the placenta.
The researchers conducted the study in Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard. The study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, looked at 131 women of reproductive age of whom, 84 were pregnant, 31 were lactating, and 16 non-pregnant.
All of them received either one of the two new mRNA vaccines – Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna. The antibody levels in the vaccines were the same in all three groups. Side effects after vaccination were rare.
The study has been encouraging for pregnant and breastfeeding women, who were initially left out of the vaccination drive. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women are more likely to become severely ill with COVID-19. They might require hospitalization, incentive care and might also be at increased risk for contrary pregnancy outcomes. Therefore, getting vaccinated might be great for them.
The researchers compared the antibody levels induced by vaccination to those by natural infection with COVID-19 during pregnancy and found the former to be significantly higher. Antibodies generated from the vaccines were also present in all umbilical cord blood and breastmilk samples taken during the study, resulting in the transfer of antibodies from the mother to the newborn.
The study also looked into the levels of mucosal antibodies and found that the antibody levels were higher after the second dose of Moderna vaccines as compared to the Pfizer/BioNTech one.
All in all, healthcare providers have called it extremely safe for the mother, as well as, the newborn to take the mRNA vaccines.