A new study found that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines generated robust humoral immunity in pregnant and lactating women, similar to that observed in women who are not pregnant. The research also found vaccine-generated antibodies in umbilical cord blood and breast milk after maternal vaccination. Published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the study provides the first data from a large cohort on maternal antibody generation in response to COVID-19 vaccination and suggests that immunization of pregnant and lactating women can confer robust maternal and neonatal immunity.
The new prospective study analyzed the blood and breast milk of 131 women, including 84 pregnant, 31 lactating, and 16 nonpregnant women, who received two doses of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna/NIH mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. The levels of antibodies produced by vaccination were uniformly high in all three groups and significantly greater than the response to natural infection. Vaccine-induced antibodies were also present in umbilical cord blood and breast milk samples after vaccination.
As the study authors note, pregnant and lactating women were excluded from initial COVID-19 vaccine trials, creating a lack of data on vaccine efficacy and infant humoral protection in this population, which this study aimed to help begin addressing. Media coverage of the findings has included stories by NPR and HealthDay.