PEDIATRICS: SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies in Breast Milk After Vaccination


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES Passive and active immunity transfer through human milk (HM) constitutes a key element in the infant’s developing immunity. Certain infectious diseases and vaccines have been described to induce changes in the immune components of HM.

METHODS We conducted a prospective cohort single-institution study from February 2 to April 4, 2021. Women who reported to be breastfeeding at the time of their coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination were invited to participate. Blood and milk samples were collected on day 14 after their second dose of the vaccine. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies against nucleocapsid protein as well as IgG, immunoglobulin M and immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies against the spike 1 protein receptor-binding domain against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (anti-SARS-CoV-2 RBD-S1) were analyzed in both serum and HM samples.

RESULTS Most of the participants (ie, 94%) received the BNT162b2 messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccine. The mean serum concentration of anti-SARS-CoV-2 RBD-S-IgG antibodies in vaccinated individuals was 3379.6 ± 1639.5 binding antibody units per mL. All vaccinated study participants had anti-SARS-CoV-2 RBD-S1-IgG, and 89% of them had anti-SARS-CoV-2 RBD-S-IgA in their milk. The antibody concentrations in the milk of mothers who were breastfeeding 24 months were significantly higher than in mothers with breastfeeding periods <24 months (P < .001).

CONCLUSIONS We found a clear association between COVID-19 vaccination and specific immunoglobulin concentrations in HM. This effect was more pronounced when lactation periods exceeded 23 months. The influence of the lactation period on immunoglobulins was specific and independent of other variables.


PEDIATRICS: SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies in Breast Milk After Vaccination