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A major finding has come to the fore that will ensure some protection for young children from covid-19. A study has found out that the breast milk of lactating mothers who have received the COVID-19 vaccine contains a significant supply of antibodies that may help protect nursing infants from the illness.
The research, published in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine, strongly suggests that vaccines can help protect both mother and baby, another compelling reason for pregnant or lactating women to get immunised.
The findings show that vaccination results in a significant increase in antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in breast milk, suggesting that vaccinated mothers can pass on this immunity to their babies.
The researchers noted that when babies are born, their immune systems are underdeveloped, making it hard for them to fight infections on their own. They are also often too young to respond adequately to certain types of vaccines. During this vulnerable period, breast milk allows nursing mothers to provide infants with ‘passive immunity’.
The study which has come with the results was conducted between December 2020 and March 2021, when the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines first became available to health care workers in the US.
The researchers recruited 21 lactating health care workers who had never contracted COVID-19. They sampled the mothers’ breast milk and blood three times: before vaccination, after the first dose and after the second dose.
A robust antibody response in blood and breast milk was reported after the second dose — about a hundred-fold increase compared with levels before vaccination which portrayed the increased anti-bodies.
Though the team is continuing to explore how breast milk containing COVID-19 antibodies gained through vaccination protects babies who consume it they are working to know if infants who consume breast milk containing these antibodies develop their own protection against COVID-19.
The researchers said many other simultaneous studies conducted around the world also show antibodies in the breastmilk of vaccinated mothers. This simply means that the study validates a growing body of evidence.
The study has generated hopes as a covid-19 third wave is being predicted during the next few weeks especially after researchers predicted that children will be the prime target during the next wave.