AUSTIN, Texas — A new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reveals COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women can offer protection to newborns.
Dr. John Sherman, OBGYN St. David’s Georgetown Hospital said women pass immunity to their newborn two ways, based on the study focusing on new mothers and pregnant women.
“This study shares with 131 women and it did show that those babies did get those antibodies from the moms,” Dr. Sherman said. “In the study they looked at women who were lactating, pregnant and non-pregnant. In this pregnancy population, what happens is the mom gets the vaccine and the body makes an immune response. We know that that antibody pass via breastmilk and via the placenta to the baby. So, the mom is giving the baby immunity.”
Dr. Sherman encourages his pregnant patients to get vaccinated as the study shows it is how moms can protect their babies from the virus, especially during a time where a vaccine hasn’t been approved for those under 16.
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“If you think about the pediatric population of a newborn to a 2-year-old, who do they really spend time with? They spend time with the adults in their lives. If the mom had immunity, gave it to that baby and if that baby came in contact with their grandparent or somebody who may have COVID-19, there’d be some protective effect,” Dr. Sherman said.
“I’m highly encouraging my patients to [get the vaccine] if they’re pregnant, thinking of being pregnant or lactating.," he added. "We feel that there is safety there. We want patients to have that autonomy and self-decisions. So, we want to support them, give them information as it evolves, and encourage them, but not make them feel bad if they don’t want the vaccine.”
Although researchers said it’s unknown how long those antibodies will last, Dr. Sherman said it’s worth protecting newborns for even a short period of time.
“The less infections we can have and the more immunity, even if it’s short-lived, because not all immunity that a mom gives a baby lasts long, helps our whole population move forward and ‘return back to normal,’” Dr. Sherman said.