In the milk of mothers vaccinated against Covid, specific IgG antibodies are transmitted that can protect children, even four months after the second vaccination dose. This is what emerges from a study by the maternal and child Irccs Burlo Garofolo of Trieste, the results of which were published in the journal ‘Vaccines’, and which was able to count on doctors, midwives and nurses from the same hospital. “We took the opportunity – explains Giuseppe Ricci, director of the Obstetrics and Gynecological Clinic of Burlo – of the presence of many women of childbearing age vaccinated early because they are health workers. The recent pandemic is in fact requiring them a great work effort associated with concerns for their own health and that of their children. The study was then extended to other mothers in our city. For women, the resumption of work, in fact, is often associated with the choice of whether and how to continue breastfeeding and it was therefore important to understand if and how the antibodies induced by the vaccine in new mothers persisted in breast milk and could, therefore, be transmitted to newborns “.
Considering that the mothers who participated in the study, being active in the hospital and therefore at high risk of contracting the infection, and given that for younger children there is no other form of protection from infection, the curators of the IRCCS research Trieste then asked themselves if it might be useful to continue breastfeeding over time. The studies published up to before the realization of that of the Burlo, in fact, had largely concerned the antibody response of women during the infection and only very few had studied the antibody response in breast milk after the second vaccination dose. The study conducted at Burlo, on the other hand, continued over time, confirming the presence in milk of specific IgG antibodies even four months after the second vaccination dose.
“IgG are immunoglobulins – clarifies Ricci – that is, antibodies that carry out their action of defense against diseases through the blood system. In general, the presence of IgG in breast milk was already known, but it was not known whether those produced following the vaccination against Covid were also present. The current study confirms this: the anti-Covid IgG produced by the vaccine are present in breast milk. This is particularly relevant given their crucial role in neonatal immunity “.
From the Burlo study it emerges that after the first dose of vaccine these antibodies are produced in good quantities and are found both in the maternal serum and in the milk, and then decrease rapidly, increase again after the second dose and persist over time. The confirmation of the presence of IgG in milk even four months after the vaccine, certified by the Trieste IRCCS research, has led many women to continue breastfeeding, confirming that the sharing of scientific information can change our behavior.
The Burlo study also involved mothers with health skills in the observation of their children in the days immediately following vaccinations through a shared questionnaire, an active surveillance of the responses to the vaccine by the nursing infants. This further part of the research showed that none of the children observed had any kind of ailment. “Although this is a study with limited numbers – concludes the director of the Obstetrics and Gynecological Clinic of Burlo – the data is reassuring”.
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