Baby Born to Partially Vaccinated Mom Has COVID-19 Antibodies

Carolyn Crist

March 17, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

A baby girl who was born 3 weeks after her mom got the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has antibodies against the coronavirus, according to a pre-print paper published on the medRxiv server in February. The paper hasn't yet been peer-reviewed.

The mom, a health care worker in Florida, developed COVID-19 antibodies after she received the shot. Testing showed that the antibodies passed through the placenta to the baby.

"Maternal vaccination for influenza and TDaP have been well studied in terms of safety and efficacy for protection of the newborn by placental passage of antibodies," Paul Gilbert and Chad Rudnick, pediatricians and researchers at Florida Atlantic University, wrote in the paper.

Previous research has indicated that moms who have recovered from COVID-19 can deliver babies with antibodies, according to Insider, but this may be the first report that shows how vaccination during pregnancy can provide antibodies as well.

Gilbert and Rudnick said they were fortunate to connect with the mom in Boca Raton. She hadn't contracted COVID-19 and was able to get the vaccine at the end of her pregnancy in January. When the baby was born, they were able to test the cord blood to look for antibodies specifically from the vaccine.

"We were very excited to see, once the test result came back, that the antibodies from the mom's vaccine did in fact pass through the placenta to the newborn," Rudnick told WPTV, an NBC affiliate in West Palm Beach.

"We knew that we were going to be potentially one of the first in the world to report it, and that opportunity probably only comes once in a career," Gilbert told WPTV.

In the pre-print, Gilbert and Rudnick said a "vigorous, healthy, full-term" baby was born, and the mom received the second dose of the Moderna vaccine during the post-partum period. The newborn received a normal "well-infant" evaluation and was breastfeeding.

The two doctors called for a "significant and urgent need" to research the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy. They also encouraged other researchers to create pregnancy and breastfeeding registries to study COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant and breastfeeding moms and newborns.

Gilbert and Rudnick are now preparing their research for publication and hope future studies will investigate the amount and length of antibody response in newborns.

"Total antibody measurements may be used to determine how long protection is expected, which may help to determine when the best time would be to begin vaccination," they wrote.

Sources:

medRxiv, "Newborn Antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 detected in cord blood after maternal vaccination."

Insider, "A baby girl born to a partially vaccinated healthcare worker has COVID-19 antibodies."

WPTV, "Boca Raton partially-vaccinated woman among first to birth baby with COVID antibodies."

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