Doctors Study Effects of COVID-19 Vaccine on Pregnant, Breastfeeding Women
131 women received the MRNA COVID vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna as part of a study at Massachusetts General Hospital. Researchers found the vaccines were highly effective in producing antibodies against COVID-19 in pregnant and lactating women.
Dr. Andrea Edlow, director of the Edlow Lab in the Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital, is the senior study author and says they also found antibodies in the umbilical cord blood and in breast milk samples. “Pregnant women can know that not only are they getting a good antibody response for themselves to protect themselves against COVID, but also they’re potentially conferring benefit to their baby. And we know that antibodies in breast milk do help prevent protect babies from respiratory infections,” says Dr. Edlow.
A labor and delivery nurse in Boston, Massachusetts Christa Carrig gave birth just before the pandemic. When the vaccine became available in January, she chose to get it for herself, but also because she was still breastfeeding. “The possibility of protection and knowing that it was very unlikely to harm made it worth it for us,” she says.
Christa took part in the study at Massachusetts General Hospital and says it’s reassuring. “I think that will encourage even more women to continue breastfeeding as long as you can,” she says. She takes comfort knowing she could be protecting her young son.
Pregnant women are at higher risk for severe COVID-19. Experts say getting the vaccine is a personal decision and that expectant moms should talk with their doctors.