With the hurry up-and-wait nature of the COVID-19 vaccine development, research and rollout, one demographic that has eagerly been awaiting more information on the efficacy of the shot is pregnant and breastfeeding people. Because pregnancy is absolutely a medical condition that leaves a person vulnerable (and full of anxiety) in even the best circumstances, the nature of a global pandemic and a respiratory illness that can be incredibly dangerous for mom and baby only makes things worse.
New research on the vaccine, however, brings some good news for pregnant people and those that love ’em. A new study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AJOG) on Thursday found “robust humoral immunity” in pregnant and breastfeeding people, comparable to what they were seeing in non-pregnant people. Likewise, the study also found evidence of vaccinated pregnant people passing antibodies and inducing immunity in newborns. Researchers were also able to get a bit more insight in the differences between the immunity following the Pfizer and Moderna second doses, finding that the levels of antibodies post-second dose of Moderna were higher in pregnant and lactating people than that of Pfizer.
Per the study: “Vaccine-induced immune responses were significantly greater than the response to natural infection. Immune transfer to neonates occurred via placenta and breastmilk. This study provides the first data from a large cohort on maternal antibody generation in response to COVID-19 vaccination, compares vaccine-generated immunity to that from natural infection in pregnancy, and suggests vaccination of pregnant and lactating women can confer robust maternal and neonatal immunity.”
President-elect of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Dr. Iffath Hoskins told NBC News that the data results of the study were “very much reassuring.”
“What this study is showing us is that the mother does mount a robust response,” Hoskins said. “Her body does wake up … making antibodies to the prod that just happened, which is the coronavirus vaccine.”
Galit Alter, co-senior author of the study, told the Harvard Gazette that the study offers “clear evidence the COVID vaccines can induce immunity that will protect infants” and adds that they hope these results will encourage vaccine developers to prioritize getting data on pregnant and lactating people and include them in the trials that often overlook them.
“The potential for rational vaccine design to drive improved outcomes for mothers and infants is limitless, but developers must realize that pregnancy is a distinct immunological state, where two lives can be saved simultaneously with a powerful vaccine,” Alter said. “We look forward to studying all vaccine platforms in pregnancy as they become available.”
Although there is still much to be learned about the long-term effects of these vaccines, the more data we have on vulnerable demographics the better equipped we will be to put an end to the pandemic.
Before you go, check out our bedrest essentials for pregnant folks: