Sarah Hollingshead was already in quarantine due to a COVID-19 exposure when she has diagnosed with the virus herself.
“There was a day my husband picked up my daughter from daycare and brought her home and I couldn’t smell her head,” she said. “And I was like, oh no, I can’t smell anything.”
A COVID diagnosis can be scary on its own, but Hollingshead had an extra layer of anxiety: the assistant principal is seven-and-a-half months pregnant with her second child.
“You just hope, you know, is my baby gonna be okay,” Hollingshead said.
There’s now new, reassuring insight for recovering expectant mothers like Hollingshead.
A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology ‘strongly’ suggests pregnant women who recover from coronavirus pass their antibodies onto their babies.
“What this is showing is your body is doing what it has to protect the babies,” said the study’s lead senior author Dr. Yawei (Jenny) Yang, who’s a pathologist with Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. “The level of antibodies, or this protection, is pretty much parallel or mimics each other in the mother and the child, so the higher the antibodies amount in the mother, the higher in the babies.”
The study also mentions these findings could have positive implications for pregnant women taking the vaccine.
“These data suggest that if the mother mounts an antibody response secondary to a vaccination against SARS-CoV-2, those antibodies could also cross the placenta into the neonate, potentially protecting both the mother and her neonate from future infection,” it reads.
Both Dr. Yang as well as Bedford fertility specialist Dr. Kevin Doody, who’s on the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s COVID-19 task force, believe this could also bode well for women who are breastfeeding.
“The good news is, it looks like if women who get COVID when they’re pregnant, that these antibodies will cross the placenta and there’s actually some evidence it could also be conveyed in the breastmilk,” Doody said.
“There’s no reason for us to assume the antibodies would not also be present in the breast milk” after either having the virus or the vaccine, Yang agreed.
Yang said it’s yet unclear how long the antibody protection lasts.
For Hollingshead and her baby, who are both doing fine, the news is a relief.
“That would be a positive to come from all of this is definitely keeping my new baby safe,” she said.