Breastfeeding Mothers Produce COVID-19 antibodies

A mother holding her baby in the air at sunset.

Breastfeeding mothers who have COVID-19 transfer milk-borne antibodies to their babies without passing along the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to a new study. (Image: mohamed_hassan via Pixabay)

Breastfeeding mothers who have COVID-19 transfer milk-borne COVID-19 antibodies to their babies without passing along the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to a new study. Researchers analyzed 37 milk samples submitted by 18 women diagnosed with COVID-19.

Moms can breastfeed during COVID-19 infections

None of the milk samples were found to contain the virus, but nearly two-thirds of the samples did contain two antibodies specific to the virus. Courtney Meehan, a WSU anthropology professor and co-author of the study published in the journal mBio, said:

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“The results indicate that it is safe for moms to continue to breastfeed during a COVID-19 infection with proper precautions.”

Meehan and WSU graduate student Beatrice Caffé were part of the multi-institutional research team led by University of Idaho nutrition researcher Michelle “Shelley” McGuire on the project. The team also includes scientists from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Researchers analyzed 37 milk samples submitted by 18 women diagnosed with COVID-19. None of the milk samples were found to contain the virus, but nearly two-thirds of the samples did contain two antibodies specific to the virus.
Researchers analyzed 37 milk samples submitted by 18 women diagnosed with COVID-19. None of the milk samples were found to contain the virus, but nearly two-thirds of the samples did contain two antibodies specific to the virus. (Image: via Pixabay)

The researchers are continuing work in this area and have now enrolled nearly 50 women who were diagnosed with COVID-19. They have followed their progress with the disease for as long as two months.

The initial study published in mBio reported on the first group of 18 women who submitted milk samples. Results from the larger study are forthcoming, but the researchers are confident that they will support, expand, and confirm the initial findings, McGuire said.

Earlier, McGuire, Meehan, and their colleagues published a related review of scientific studies focused on coronaviruses in human milk and found that scant evidence exists about their presence or absence.

Provided by: Washington State University [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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