Story at a glance

  • Researchers are investigating how safe it is for lactating individuals to receive coronavirus vaccines.
  • A study of seven participants found no traces of the mRNA vaccines, although the sample size is small and samples were only collected for up to 48 hours after.
  • This supports current recommendations that mRNA vaccines are safe and lactating individuals can continue to feed their children with their milk.

Bit by bit, people who are eligible for vaccination against SARS-COV-2, the coronavirus causing COVID-19, are getting vaccinated in the U.S. So far, there has been little data regarding safety of coronavirus vaccination for pregnant and lactating individuals since they were not included in the phase III clinical trials for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines. But slowly, more data is coming out regarding safety.

In a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, researchers tested the human milk from seven individuals for signs of mRNA vaccines that the participants received. The milk was collected between December 2020 and February 2021 and mean age of participants was 37.8 years old. The researchers collected samples before vaccination and at intervals up to 48 hours following vaccination.

The team analyzed the different components, the supernatant and the fat, of human milk separately. Out of the 13 post vaccination samples, they didn’t find any signs of vaccines. “We didn't detect the vaccine associated mRNA in any of the milk samples tested,” says lead author Yarden Golan, who is a postdoctoral fellow at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), in a press release. “These findings provide an experimental evidence regarding the safety of the use of mRNA-based vaccines during lactation.”


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The scientists think this suggests it is safe for individuals who are feeding infants with human milk to get vaccinated. “The results strengthen current recommendations that the mRNA vaccines are safe in lactation, and that lactating individuals who receive the COVID vaccine should not stop breastfeeding,” says physician and corresponding author Stephanie L. Gaw, who is assistant professor of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at UCSF, in the press release. Although, it should be noted that the sample size of the study was small with only seven participants. Future studies could also look at longer time periods post vaccination.


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Published on Jul 19, 2021