Researchers have found that coronavirus antibodies get transferred from mother to child during pregnancy, CNN reports. Researchers tested more than 1,500 women who gave birth at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Hospital and found that 83 had coronavirus antibodies. The newborns of 72 of those women also tested positive for the antibodies, the study published Friday found. “What we have found is fairly consistent with what we have learned from studies of other viruses” Scott E. Hensley, one of the study’s authors, tells the New York Times, adding that it appears that pregnant women transfer more antibodies to their babies if they are infected earlier in their pregnancy. Whether the amount of antibodies passed to a baby is enough to prevent them from getting COVID-19 is not yet known.
And further research is needed to determine if antibodies generated by vaccines will behave like those that result from a COVID-19 infection. But because the babies of women who were infected earlier in pregnancy had higher levels of antibodies, Hensley tells the Times, vaccinating pregnant women earlier may offer more protection. “But studies actually analyzing vaccination among pregnant women need to be completed,” he says. Mark Turrentine, a doctor who is part of a COVID expert group, says it’s “plausible” that a vaccine will provide protection to pregnant mothers and their newborns, adding “this study highlights that inclusion of pregnant women in clinical trials such as the Covid-19 vaccine is essential.” (Read more COVID-19 stories.)