The pandemic has made us feel vulnerable. But the idea of being in the same space with many people makes us anxious, especially if we have babies. But did you know that the best way to protect them against Covid-19 is by breastfeeding?
María del Pilar Velázquez Sánchez, a specialist in gynecology at Hospital Ángeles, points out that breastfeeding is essential for the lives of our children, since it influences their physical, emotional and mental development.
“Breastfeeding makes it possible to have, not only a healthy child, but also a healthy adult. We recommend that it be exclusive for the first six months of life, and if possible, extend to the first two years”.
By breastfeeding our children we provide them with defenses against many infections, even against SARS-CoV-2.
Shield against Covid-19
Studies have shown the existence of antibodies in the breast milk of vaccinated women against this virus.
Research carried out by the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology, the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), and the Sant Joan de Déu Research Institute in Spain, have found the presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in women who were vaccinated against Covid-19.
“We were not able to detect the RNA of the virus in any breast milk, and we found that antibodies were present in the majority of infected women, suggesting that breast milk is a protective shield”, said María Carmen Collado, a CSIC researcher.
In the research, carried out on 75 lactating women who received AztraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the presence of antibodies was detected.
In all the analyzed cases, there was a response to vaccination with an increase in antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, much more intense after the second dose.
“Breastfeeding is a priority, and we still need more targeted research to confirm the potential protective role of these antibodies present in breast milk against COVID-19 in children”.
María Carmen Collado, researcher at the Higher Council for Scientific Research
Defenses against Covid-19 in babies
In another investigation carried out by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in the United States, the presence of antibodies against Covid-19 in breastfed babies was also revealed. The research involved 30 women in the lactating stage with their respective children.
The finding of these defenses was in the stool of the babies.
A research, published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, involved taking several samples of breast milk at different times:
- Before and after the mothers received the vaccine.
- Two to three weeks after receiving the first dose.
- Three weeks after they received the second dose.
Blood samples from the mothers were used after three weeks of receiving each dose of the vaccine; in addition, stool samples from the babies were studied 21 days after the application of the complete vaccination schedule for the mothers.
In the investigation, antibodies were discovered in breast milk, which neutralize the Spike protein (the one that contributes to the infection of Covid-19 in the respiratory system) of SARS-CoV-2, as well as four of its variants.
Antibodies against Covid-19 were also detected in stool samples from breastfed babies.
Breastfeeding without interruption
Unicef recommends not stopping breastfeeding during the pandemic, since there is no scientific evidence that Covid-19 is transmitted through breast milk.
The American Academy of Pediatrics explains that breastfeeding should not be interrupted, since the mother can breastfeed even if she has COVID-19 or if she has not been fully vaccinated, as long as she takes additional safety precautions to protect her baby.
All these results support the importance of recommending breastfeeding systematically in all cases in which the mother has few or no symptoms. It is the best protection.
Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara
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