A new study suggests that pregnant people can pass protective antibodies to their babies if they were infected with Covid-19 during pregnancy. According to the researchers, this behavior is consistent with what is known through studies of other viruses.
The article, published this Friday (29) in the magazine JAMA Pediatrics, further states that the transfer of antibodies is greater in early pregnancy. “This could have implications for when women should be vaccinated against Covid-19,” says Scott E. Hensley, associate professor of microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and one of the study’s authors.
More than 1,500 women who gave birth at the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia were tested between April and August last year. Of these, 83 were found to have antibodies against Covid-19.
After delivery, 72 of these babies tested positive for the presence of antibodies through umbilical cord blood – regardless of whether their mothers had symptoms or not.
According to Karen Puopolo, the study’s co-authored pediatrician, about half of these babies had antibody levels as high or higher than those found in their mothers’ blood. One in four babies had levels of antibodies in the blood 1.5 to 2 times higher than the mothers’ concentrations.
The sooner, the more protection
The researchers also observed a relationship between the period of onset of Covid-19 infection and childbirth. The longer this time, the more antibodies like immunoglobulin G, or IgG, are transferred. None of the babies had immunoglobulin M, or IgM, antibodies, which are usually detected soon after an infection. This suggests that the babies were not infected with the new coronavirus.
However, experts still do not know whether the amount of antibodies transmitted to babies was sufficient to prevent newborns from contracting Covid-19. The authors reinforce that the study was conducted only in one hospital, and should be replicated later.
Scientists were also unable to say whether the Covid-19 vaccine will work this way, in part because pregnant women were excluded from initial clinical trials.
“It is plausible that the Covid vaccine offers protection for pregnant mothers and their babies,” says Mark Turrentine, a doctor with the Covid-19 expert group at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “For me, this study highlights that the inclusion of pregnant women in clinical trials such as the Covid-19 vaccine is essential, especially when the benefit of vaccination is greater than the potential risk of a life-threatening disease,” he adds.
Via: New York Times
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