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Vaccine mRNA discovered in breast milk – What does this mean for breastfeeding mothers?

Created: 10/04/2022 05:08 am

In a small study, researchers found traces of Covid-19 vaccines in breast milk. But there is no reason for concern, they say.

New York/Berlin – For many breastfeeding mothers, the question arises as to whether they should be vaccinated against the corona virus. The fact that a small study by NYU Langone Hospital in New York found traces of the mRNA vaccine in breast milk initially seems worrying.

Corona vaccine discovered in breast milk: researchers give the all-clear

In the course of the study, a team led by neonatologist Nazeeh Hanna analyzed a total of 131 milk samples from eleven women who had previously received mRNA preparations from Moderna or Biontech/Pfizer. Samples were collected up to five days after vaccination. The scientists found what they were looking for in a total of seven samples from five participants. All tested milk samples with mRNA traces were taken within 45 hours after vaccination.

Mutter mit Baby
It is safe for a mother to breastfeed her offspring after a corona vaccination. © jolopes/Imago

At the same time, however, the researchers and German experts are giving the all-clear: They continue to advise breastfeeding women to have a corona vaccination. Breastfeeding is safe even after an mRNA vaccination against Covid-19, according to the study, which was published on September 26, 2022 in the journal “JAMA Pediatrics”.

Corona vaccine discovered in breast milk: Children up to six months old should not be breastfed for 48 hours after vaccination

However, the scientists working with Nazeeh Hanna advise caution in children up to the age of six months in the first 48 hours after vaccination until further study data on safety are available. Possible effects of vaccine mRNA on newborns have not been sufficiently studied.

The German Society for Gynecology and Obstetrics (DGGG) points out that the vaccination not only protects the mother from a severe course of Covid-19, but also reduces the risk of a Sars-CoV-2 infection in the child. “Based on these considerations, it does not seem sensible to restrict the recommendation for the vaccination of breastfeeding mothers,” emphasizes the specialist society.

Corona vaccine discovered in breast milk: mRNA in breast milk not active according to DGGG

The New York researchers speculate that nanoparticles containing the mRNA might reach the mammary glands via the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. The study did not examine whether the mRNA was still active, i.e. could theoretically lead to the formation of proteins. However, when asked, the DGGG emphasizes that mRNA “is degraded in the stomach after oral intake, i.e. decomposed” and does not reach the bloodstream of the newborn.

Previously, another US study showed that mothers can breastfeed without hesitation despite corona disease. Accordingly, there is no evidence that recently infected mothers would transmit contagious viruses to their children through breastfeeding.

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