Since the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic, numerous scientific studies have been conducted to find out if antibodies to SARS-Cov-2 were present in the breast milk of previously infected women. The results of a recent study have just confirmed the presence of Sars-Cov-2 specific IgA in breast milk.
Analysis of human milk samples
Little data is available on possible protection against Covid-19 through breast milk. Despite traces of antibodies against SARS-Cov-2 found in newborns of infected mothers, evidence was lacking. That was until researchers analyzed 15 samples of breast milk from 15 women infected with the coronavirus. The study was conducted at Icahn School of Medicine on Mount Sinai in New York City. They demonstrated the presence of antibodies, including immunoglobulin A, in these samples. The milk was collected 3 to 4 weeks after the symptoms disappeared. The study authors stated, “All human milk samples obtained from COVID-19 patients contained significant concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 specific IgA.” According to scientists, the immune response is robust. It is even possible that antibodies in the milk may represent a particularly effective therapeutic pathway for the treatment of the disease, especially in its severe forms.
The antibodies produced by the body
The human body produces several immunoglobulins, proteins that are excreted from blood serum when bacteria or viruses enter cells. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is found in large amounts in the respiratory tract to help fight infections quickly. It is also found in secretions such as mucus, saliva, sweat, and breast milk. IgM is found mainly in the blood. They are also the first antibodies formed when an infection occurs. Therefore, it is proof that an infection is occurring. IgG makes up 75% of the immunoglobulins in the blood. These antibodies are produced somewhat later but have the advantage that they remain in the body longer after infection. Of the 15 samples tested, 80% showed a strong reaction of IgA against Sars-Cov-2. Sixty-seven percent of the samples also contained IgM and/or IgG. These antibodies act directly on the spikes on the surface of the coronavirus. This process is necessary to stop the infection.
Further research is needed, as much remains to be discovered about the anti-Covid-19 immunity that breast milk may provide to the breastfed baby, and for possible treatment of the disease.