UI study: COVID-19 antibodies passed to infants through breast milk

Limited data has thus far been available about the risks and benefits associated with breastfeeding following a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. But scientists at the University of Idaho recently published a study which supports recommendations for lactating mothers to continue breastfeeding during and after illness.

Professor Michelle McGuire helped lead the multidisciplinary research team in discovering breastmilk from women infected with COVID-19 provides natural protection to their infants against the virus. McGuire is a nutrition researcher focused on human milk. Previous research from the scientists, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, found the milk of breastfeeding women with the illness to contain no traces of the virus. The next step, according to McGuire, was finding out if there are antibodies, and it turns out there are. McGuire said, quote, “The antibodies are there in relatively high amounts, they’re long-lasting and they neutralize or basically inactivate the virus.”

More than 60 women participated in the expanded study by providing samples of milk for as long as two months after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

The results were published Dec. 23 in the journal Frontiers in Immunology. It includes work from researchers at UI; Washington State University; University of Rochester Medical Center; University of California, San Francisco; Brigham and Women’s Hospital; University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; and Tulane University. (Lewiston Tribune)

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