Will newborns have COVID-19 antibodies if mother is vaccinated?

Pregnant woman grapple with the decision of whether to get vaccine

Many pregnant women are faced with whether or not to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

Some are now wanting to have their newborns tested for antibodies.

Melissa Echevarria-Baez is now 6 months pregnant, her doctors say with a healthy baby boy.

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She’s also now fully vaccinated for COVID-19, but says it took weeks of research to make the decision to do it.

“I read more research and papers and stuff related to the vaccine than I have in a lifetime,” Echevarria-Baez said.

It is a decision many pregnant women are grappling with during the pandemic. A decision made more complicated by the fact that none of the vaccines were tested on pregnant women.

“We’re making a decision with our bodies, impacting our babies, using research, that’s not necessarily taking us into account,” Echevarria-Baez said. “That made things very, very complicated.”

“Overall I do recommend that pregnant women get the Covid vaccine,” Dr. Natasha Spencer, an Ob-Gyn with Orlando Health said. “There are small studies, early studies show there is no risk to the baby and the woman.”

Getting the vaccine has gotten much easier for pregnant women who choose to get it.

“I have no regrets in terms of taking the vaccine so far,” Echevarria-Baez said. “And if the added bonus is that my child will have antibodies. I mean, it couldn’t get better than that.”

Early research of vaccine response in pregnant women shows vaccine generated antibodies were present in all umbilical cord blood and breastmilk samples, according to preliminary findings of researchers in medRxiv, a journal that publishes preprinted manuscripts before they have been peer-reviewed.

News 6 raised the issue with Dr. Rachel Humphrey with Advent Health during a Facebook live.

“The COVID-19 antibodies that the mom develops from a vaccination, or either if she was unfortunately, infected in pregnancy, those antibodies do go over to the baby,” Humphrey said.

Mom’s like Echevarria-Baez say confirming that with a test would bring peace of mind, but actually getting a newborn tested for COVID-19 anti-bodies is difficult — even upon request. Orlando Health will not test newborns for COVID-19 antibodies, according to Spencer.

We got a similar answer from Advent Health

“The answer is no,” Humphrey said. “We know they’re there from good science and from studies where tests have been performed but there’s no need to put babies through any extra testing.”

If the mom has been vaccinated, the antibodies are with the baby for a few weeks or months, according to Humphrey. Some local clinics say the test is simple, and they would perform it if a mother requests it.

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About the Authors:

Emmy Award-winning reporter Louis Bolden joined the News 6 team in September of 2001 and hasn't gotten a moment's rest since. Louis has been a General Assignment Reporter for News 6 and Weekend Morning Anchor. He joined the Special Projects/Investigative Unit in 2014.

Emmy-nominated journalist Kristin Cason joined the News 6 team in June 2016.