This week, there was confirmation that a baby born in Florida this year had COVID-19 antibodies in its cord blood. The baby's mother received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine while 36 weeks pregnant.
RELATED: Moderna to test COVID-19 vaccine on young children, babies
"We were all not surprised, but really happy," said Dr. Stephanie Gaw, a high risk UCSF OBGYN. She's not surprised because she has three studies under review about the COVID vaccine in pregnant and lactating mothers.
"We're studying the mom's blood, cord blood, placenta, breast milk, and infant blood as well to understand how the immune response in pregnancy is to the vaccine and whether or not the vaccine can also be protective to the baby, both in during pregnancy and with breastfeeding."
Dr. Gaw is working to learn not just if COVID antibodies are passed from mother to baby, but when during pregnancy a person should be vaccinated to optimize antibody production.
RELATED: Pregnant women in trial receive 1st COVID-19 vaccine doses
"For example, the whooping cough or pertussis vaccine, is recommended to pregnant women around 30 weeks, to give the vaccine time to work generate enough antibodies that the babies have really good levels after delivery. And that's still unknown for the COVID-19 vaccines, when the best time of delivery would be."
She also has great news for nursing moms. "We know that there are antibodies detected in the breast milk after maternal vaccination, and that these types of antibodies, in general are protective to the baby and protect the baby from getting infections as well. We're still doing work on understanding the extent of protection to the babies. It's also possible that, for example, the antibodies can protect the baby, not only against SARS-CoV-2 but other related coronaviruses that cause the common cold."
RELATED: COVID-19 vaccine trial to begin on children as young as 6, youngest group yet to be tested
"We know that maternal antibody usually wanes, after about six months or so," explained Dr. Grace Lee, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Stanford.
Regardless of antibodies, Dr. Lee says like the Tdap and flu shot, the COVID vaccine will be important for anyone caring for a newborn. "The best way we can protect infants is to be able to hopefully vaccinate all family members around that infant, and cocoon that infant, so that the risk of transmission to that infant is much lower."
Dr. Gaw hopes to share more of her research soon.
Having trouble loading the tracker above? Click here to open it in a new window.
RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
- Map shows which counties can, can't reopen under reopening tiers
- Cheat sheet: What you can and can't do after being fully vaccinated
- How to register for a COVID-19 vaccine in every Bay Area county
- Map shows everywhere you can get a COVID-19 test in the Bay Area
- Interactive map shows what's closed and what's reopening in the San Francisco Bay Area
- Data tracker: Coronavirus cases, deaths, hospitalizations in every Bay Area county
- Third stimulus check calculator: See how much you could get
- COVID-19 Diaries: Personal stories of Bay Area residents during pandemic
- Get the latest updates on California EDD, stimulus checks, unemployment benefits
- Coronavirus origin: Where did COVID-19 come from?
- What is a COVID-19 genetic, antigen and antibody test?
- What does COVID-19 do to your body and why does it spread so easily?
- Coronavirus Timeline: Tracking major moments of COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco Bay Area
- Coronavirus Doctor's Note: Dr. Alok Patel gives his insight into COVID-19 pandemic