NEW YORK — Pregnant women who have gotten or are planning on getting the COVID-19 vaccine can protect their babies by passing on high levels of antibodies, according to new research from NYU Langone Health.
The study, released last week, looked at 36 newborns whose mothers received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine during pregnancy.
Researchers said 100% of these infants had protective antibodies at birth, proving there’s scientific power to protect two lives at once.
Senior author and researcher, Dr. Jennifer Lighter, said the antibodies cross the placenta and pass through the blood to the infants.
“This is now a bonus finding, to realize antibodies transferred to the baby. When women get vaccinated during pregnancy, they’re protecting their baby from COVID,” said Lighter.
Lighter said pregnant women who contract COVID-19 are at an increased risk of preterm delivery and intubation.
That’s why moms like Anjali Bharati didn’t think twice about the vaccine. At 12 weeks pregnant, Bharati’s fears became a reality when she tested positive for COVID-19.
“It was the sickest I’d ever been in my life and I was terrified,” said Bharati.
As an emergency room doctor at Lenox Health Greenwich Village, her health was already at risk. Through compromised oxygen levels and high fevers, Bharati slowly recovered and waited until a vaccine was available.
“I was waiting for this vaccine because I thought ‘Gosh I would get it.’ I was first in line for it,” said Bharati. “I didn’t want to risk spreading this virus that we’re all exposed to any further along.”
Bharati wanted to keep her loved ones safe, including her unvaccinated first-born toddler and now her 5-month-old, Rai.
Based on the study, Bharati is protecting Rai because she received the vaccine when she was still pregnant with him.
“If the way you can give them a chance to fight off this virus is by getting vaccinated yourself and passing it on to your babies, that’s the best way,” said Bharati.
Additional research is needed to determine how effective the infant antibodies are and how long protection will last.