Can Protect Babies, Covid-19 Antibodies in Breast Milk Last 10 Months

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – Breastfeeding women who have been infected Covid-19 secretes antibodies that can neutralize the disease virus in her milk for up to 10 months after infection. The ability to neutralize means to block the infection of the virus. This conclusion was drawn from research presented at the Global Breastfeeding and Lactation Symposium on September 21, 2021.

Rebecca Powell of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, United States, and her colleagues analyzed breast milk samples from 75 women who had recovered from Covid-19. They found that 88 percent of the samples contained antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, or the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, and in many cases neutralized infection with the virus.

From the findings of Rebecca et al, it is suspected that breastfeeding can help protect babies from infection with the Covid-19 corona virus. This mechanism is known to occur in cases of other respiratory diseases such as influenza and pertussis.

Previously, researchers had detected the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in breast milk but it was not yet clear whether they had the ability to neutralize infection. Likewise, it is not known how long the antibody production will take after infection.

Children are indeed at lower risk of developing severe symptoms of Covid-19 than adults but, nonetheless, about one in 10 infants under one year need hospitalization if they become infected. That’s why, Rebecca explained, knowing the presence of antibodies in breast milk, how long they can protect after recovery from infection, or what vaccine can provide the best antibodies to protect her baby, are important and relevant information for the long term.

He adds that the type of antibody found in breast milk is different from the immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies in the blood and is triggered by vaccination – although some of them are also found in breast milk. The main antibody found in breast milk is Secretory Immunoglobulin A (IgA) which is attached to the respiratory tract and small intestine of infants.

“These antibodies block viruses and bacteria from entering the circulatory system in the body,” he said.

Rebecca believes that antibodies extracted from breast milk can also be used to treat adults with severe symptoms of Covid-19. He envisions nebuliser-type therapy for patients who are already quite sick but haven’t made it to the ICU.

The study also found that the majority of women who received doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines—two Covid-19 vaccines produced using the mRNA technique—had antibodies specific to the coronavirus in their breast milk. The levels are higher than the antibody levels in the breast milk of women receiving Janssen or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

This finding supports the results of previous research that vaccination Covid-19 for breastfeeding mothers can also help protect their babies from infection with the disease, although this has not been conclusively tested.

NEW SCIENTIST, THE GUARDIAN

Also read:
Menstrual Disorders after Covid-19 Vaccination, Here Are the Facts

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