COVID vaccine in pregnancy triggers strong immune response in moms, babies

COVID-19 vaccination can prompt a vigorous immune response in pregnant women, who then pass the resulting antibodies on to their newborns through the placenta and breast milk, according to a study published yesterday in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Led by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, who call it the largest such study yet, the prospective analysis involved the blood and breast milk of 131 women of reproductive age, including 84 pregnant, 31 lactating, and 16 nonpregnant participants, who received two doses of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccine from Dec 17, 2020, to Mar 2, 2021.

Blood and breast milk samples were collected at the time of the women’s first and second vaccine doses, 2 to 6 weeks after the second dose, and at delivery (for the 13 pregnant women who gave birth during the study period). The researchers also collected umbilical cord blood at delivery. Five women reported previous infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Transfer of antibodies from moms to newborns

The investigators found that the antibody levels induced by the vaccine were uniformly high in all three groups of women. “COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy and lactation generated robust humoral immunity similar to that observed in non-pregnant women with similar side effect profiles,” the authors wrote.

 

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