Moms Pass Protective Antibodies to Baby After Coronavirus Infection

Two new studies show pregnant people who’ve had Covid-19 pass protective antibodies to babies

Dr Jeff Livingston
Medium Coronavirus Blog
3 min readFeb 4, 2021

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Image: Rasi Bhadramani Istock by Getty

Pregnant people worldwide are worried they will catch the coronavirus and pass it to their newborn baby. As an OB-GYN working in a Covid-19 hot spot, I am a firsthand witness to this anxiety.

Although much remains unknown about the coronavirus’ effects on pregnant people and babies, scientists continue to learn more every day. Evidence shows that most pregnant people who contract the virus will do well, but there is a slight increase in ICU admissions and preterm labor for those who have severe Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Two new independent studies reveal highly encouraging results showing pregnant people with Covid-19 pass protective antibodies to their babies. No one wants pregnant people to contract the coronavirus, but these studies offer promising hope that maternal infection may provide some protection for their babies after birth.

These studies evaluated fetal cord blood from the placenta to determine if SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were transmitted from mom to baby. The placenta is also the defense system against invading infections like bacteria and viruses.

The first study was published in JAMA Pediatrics. Researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia collected blood from the placenta from 1,471 people and tested it for antibodies against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. Positive IgG antibodies were identified in 83 people.

The researchers then tested the baby’s cord blood and found that IgG antibodies were present in 87% of the newborns born to moms with SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.

This finding indicates that pregnant people with Covid-19 are passing protective antibodies through the placenta to their babies.

This study also showed that the high rate of antibody transfer did not depend on the maternal disease level. Even the mothers with asymptomatic infection transmitted antibodies to the baby. The data also indicated infection earlier in pregnancy correlated with a higher degree of antibody transfer.

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Dr Jeff Livingston
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Obgyn, Husband, Father, & Entrepreneur. Writing about Women’s Health, Parenting, and Self-improvement. CEO of MacArthurmc.com & founder of Medika.life