The findings of a recent study suggested that antibodies that help in guarding against the COVID-19 virus are transferred from mothers to their babies while in the womb.
This discovery, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology', adds to growing evidence that suggests that pregnant women who generate protective antibodies after contracting the coronavirus often convey some of that natural immunity to their fetuses.
The findings also lend support to the idea that vaccinating mothers-to-be may also have benefits for their newborns.
All of the women had COVID-19 antibodies in their blood, indicating that they had contracted the virus at some point even though 58 per cent of those women had no symptoms. Furthermore, while antibodies were detected in both symptomatic and asymptomatic women, the researchers observed that the concentration of antibodies was significantly higher in symptomatic women.
They also found that the general pattern of antibody response was similar to the response seen in other patients, confirming that pregnant women have the same kind of immune response to the virus as the larger patient population-something that hadn't previously been known for sure since a woman's immune system changes throughout pregnancy.
Also, the vast majority of the babies born to these women-78 per cent-had detectable antibodies in their umbilical cord blood.
There was no evidence that any of the infants had been directly infected with the virus and all were COVID negative at the time of birth, further indicating that the antibodies had crossed the placenta-the organ that provides oxygen and nutrients to a growing baby during pregnancy-into the fetal bloodstream.
Newborns with symptomatic mothers also had higher antibody levels than those whose mothers had no COVID symptoms.