Doctor says vaccinated mothers pass antibodies onto their baby while breastfeeding

Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 3:15 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Babies are very vulnerable to diseases in their first few months, that’s why a doctor at the University of Virginia Medical Center is telling her patients to give your baby that extra layer of protection and get vaccinated while pregnant and breastfeed your baby after it’s born.

“I think of breastmilk as a personalized medicine that is not just nutrition for the baby, but also protection against infections, against some lifelong diseases,” Dr. Ann Kellams, the director of the UVA Breastfeeding Medicine Clinic, said. “It also has benefits for the mother with decreased ovarian cancer and breast cancer rates for women who breastfeed.”

Kellams says the data so far shows that mothers who get the COVID-19 vaccine can pass antibodies onto their baby while it is in the womb and while breastfeeding.

“Think of the breast milk as a continuation of that protection, so whatever bad things in the environment that the breastfeeding person is exposed to, they are making antibodies to those bad things and giving them to the baby who is sharing their environment,” Kellams said.

That’s why Kellams is urging her pregnant patients to get the COVID-19 vaccine. “The information we have is that it’s effective and certainly much safer than either the mother while she’s pregnant or the baby getting coronavirus,” she said.

When pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine, Kellams says babies are born with some COVID-19 antibodies and if the woman breastfeeds, she also continues to pass on antibodies to the baby.

“We don’t know how long they last, but what I’m telling my people in the clinic is that some antibodies against this virus are better than no antibodies,” Kellams said. “It’s been shown that mom makes antibodies when she gets the vaccine and then those are in her milk and then we would assume provide for the baby.”

If you have any questions about whether or not the COVID-19 vaccine is right for you, Kellams says you can always call the UVA Breastfeeding Medicine Clinic at 434-924-0000.

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