As the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines continues to gain momentum, the number of people becoming vaccinated is increasing every day. Among the recipients are pregnant women, which is consistent with guidance from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, both of which recommended that pregnant women receive the vaccine.
One frontline healthcare worker from South Florida received her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination when she was 36 weeks pregnant and gave birth three weeks later to a healthy baby born with antibodies to COVID-19. This is believed to be the first case in the U.S. of a baby born with the antibodies, which may help protect the child from contracting the virus. The discovery was made by analyzing the baby’s umbilical cord blood, which revealed detectable antibody numbers present after the mother’s first dose of the vaccine.
The news is not altogether surprising, as it was already known that pregnant women who had previously been infected by COVID-19 could pass antibodies to their babies in utero, and other types of vaccine antibodies can be passed through the placenta. Doctors have emphasized the need to continue researching vaccine safety and efficacy for pregnant women. Still, confirming it is possible for pregnant women to pass COVID-19 vaccine antibodies to their babies is exciting news, as it provides a way to protect newborns who are otherwise vulnerable to infection.
Other studies seem to support these findings, including a Massachusetts study which found COVID-19 vaccine-related antibodies in the umbilical cord blood of ten babies whose mothers had received the vaccine, and in newborns of vaccinated women in Israel.
Vaccine manufacturer Pfizer has begun a large-scale trial of its vaccine on pregnant women, expected to conclude by early 2023. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are not yet conducting formal trials involving pregnant women, but they are capturing data in a registry about the pregnant women who receive their vaccines.
As more data becomes available and more information known about COVID-19 vaccines and their effectiveness for pregnant women and newborns, we will share it with our readers.