Bringing home a new baby during Covid times can leave you with a LOT of questions. With the current CDC guidelines recommending vaccination for children 5 years and older, you may be left wondering, “Is my newborn protected?”. While some things are still a mystery at this point, some recent findings may help put you at ease in regards to newborn Covid immunity.
Is my infant immune to Covid if I was vaccinated during pregnancy?
It is very possible that your infant has some immunity for the first few months of life! Covid antibodies are passed from the mother to the infant through the placenta when the mother is vaccinated during pregnancy. These antibodies survive for about 4-6 months in the infant after delivery (Segrave-Daly, 2021). Keep in mind that the vaccine has a particular strand, similar to the flu vaccine, and more recently new strands may have sprouted in the community.
One study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that at 2 months of age 98% of infants, born to moms who had been vaccinated during pregnancy, still had Covid antibodies. At 6 months of age, 57% of these infants still had Covid antibodies (Shook, 2022).
Is my infant immune to Covid if I had Covid during pregnancy?
This scenario is a bit less reliable. While the Covid infected mothers did not pass as many antibodies through the placenta as the vaccinated mothers, some research is finding that the infected mothers may be passing more antibodies through breast milk than the vaccinated mothers (Bäuerl, 2021; Fox, 2020; Narayanaswamy, 2022; Shook, 2022).
Does breast milk provide Covid antibodies to my infant?
Breast milk does pass antibodies from the mother to the infant, but not in the way you may think. Antibodies in breast milk do not absorb through the infant’s digestive tract into the circulation. Only antibodies passed through the placenta make it to the infant’s circulation. The antibodies in breast milk coat the mouth, throat, and digestive tract of the infant to protect against intruders (Segrave-Daly, 2021).
Breast milk was found to have a neutralizing effect on Covid from both vaccinated mothers and those who had contracted Covid (Fox, 2020; Narayanaswamy, 2022). In general terms, neutralizing a virus means to stop the virus from infecting your body. This is great news as Covid largely targets these areas as points of entry. Having this protective coating is likely very helpful in offering your infant some immunity.
What we still don’t know about Newborn Covid Immunity…
There’s still very little research on whether infants born to vaccinated or infected mothers actually have less cases of infection. All of the findings discussed above lead us to believe that this would be the case. However, we can’t be sure until more research comes out!
If you want to learn more about the exchange of immunity between mother and child this article written by Jody Segrave-Daly MS, RN, IBCLC is a great place to start! We want to remind you that here at Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny we take families’ safety into great consideration when placing a nanny or newborn care expert. Learn more here!
About The Author
Fiona is a registered nurse who recently graduated from Northeastern University. She primarily focuses on newborn and postpartum care, and loves working as a newborn care expert with BBNN. Before her time as a nurse, she studied newborn genetics at Boston Children’s Hospital. In addition, Fiona participated in the Harvard Neonatal Student Research program. Fiona strives to develop meaningful relationships with every family she cares for. She loves watching children and families thrive with the proper care and support.