Reports last year showed that some babies born to mothers infected with the novel coronavirus during pregnancy had antibodies of their own after birth. Children of all ages are less likely to develop the same complications as adults who contract the virus, but COVID-19 can lead to a condition called MIS-C that can be life-threatening.
It’s unclear what sort of protection against infection or against severe COVID-19 babies born with antibodies will receive, but researchers will soon have more data on the matter. The vaccines are safe for pregnant women to take, and doctors from Florida have detailed the case of the world’s first baby born with COVID-19 antibodies after the mother received a single dose of the Moderna vaccine during pregnancy.
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“A vigorous, healthy, full-term female was born to a COVID-19 naïve mother who had received a single dose of mRNA vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 three weeks prior to delivery,” the authors wrote in a pre-print version of the article, published online on MedRXiv. “Cord blood antibodies (IgG) were detected to the S-protein of SARS-CoV-2 at time of delivery.”
The researchers explain that newborn babies get protection against other illnesses like the flu after the mothers are vaccinated. But more data is needed to see what sort of immunity the babies get from COVID-19 vaccines. The research could also inform physicians of the best vaccination strategies for mothers so that immunity can be passed on to children.
The mother in this case is a healthcare worker who received her first Moderna jab while she was in her 37th week of pregnancy. Three weeks after that, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
“To our knowledge, this was the first in the world that was reported of a baby being born with antibodies after a vaccination,” Dr. Paul Gilbert told the West Palm Beach ABC affiliate via The Guardian. “We tested the baby’s cord to see if the antibodies in the mother passed to the baby, which is something we see happen with other vaccines given during pregnancy.”
“This is one small case in what will be thousands and thousands of babies born to mothers who have been vaccinated of the next several months,” Dr. Chad Rudnick, the other author of the article, said. “Further studies have to determine how long will this protection last. They have to determine at what level of protection or how many antibodies does a baby need to have circulating in order to give them protection.”
The two scientists explain in the article that future studies will be needed to quantify the amount of neutralizing antibodies present in babies born from mothers who are vaccinated before delivery. Future studies will also have to measure antibody protection duration and determine when would be the best time to vaccinate newborns. Moderna just announced a new trial that will assess the vaccine efficacy and safety in children between 6 months and 12 years of age.
The authors also urge other doctors to “create pregnancy and breastfeeding registries as well as conduct efficacy and safety studies of the COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant and breastfeeding woman and their offspring.”
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