Mums Who Have Recovered From COVID-19 Have a ‘Strong Immune Response’ in Their Breast Milk
It is no secret that breast milk is amazing stuff. Scientists studying antibodies in blood collected from COVID-19 survivors have turned to breast milk only to discover that it, too, contains a ‘strong immune response’ to the virus.
Antibodies are proteins created by the immune system to neutralise invaders like bacteria and viruses. Insider explains: “Breast milk antibodies are well-known to help protect babies from various diseases like measles while they’re too young to receive a vaccine, and breastfeeding is also associated with a lower risk of conditions including some gastrointestinal conditions, diabetes, asthma, and sudden infant death syndrome.”
The team found that 80%, or 13, of the COVID-19 survivors tested, had an antibody in their breast milk specific to the illness. The antibody was in “the most dominant class” of milk antibodies called immunoglobulin A (IgA).
“Overall, these data indicate that there is strong COVID-19 immune response in the milk after infection in the majority of individuals,” New York human milk immunologist and currently breastfeeding mum of three Rebecca Powell said.
While the findings don’t mean the antibody can protect against COVID-19 in babies or in therapy for adults, it does mean there’s a good reason for researchers to explore it further.
The study also supports the recommendation for continuing to breastfeed, even through the pandemic. There is no evidence that the virus passes through breastmilk, and, in fact, has been proven to be an extra healthy boost for babies.
“Through breastfeeding, the infant will receive the antibodies that the mother is producing to fight the illness. Most infectious diseases are also not a cause for weaning or interruption. Generally, by the time a disease has been diagnosed, the infant has been exposed and will probably benefit more from the protection he gets from his mother’s breast milk than from weaning,” AAP states.
Breast milk for the win again!