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  • Moms Gave Birth To Babies With COVID-19 Antibodies. What Does This Mean?

    Does it mean they are immune to the virus?
    by Rachel Perez .
Moms Gave Birth To Babies With COVID-19 Antibodies. What Does This Mean?
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  • With several vaccines nearing approval and distribution, experts discover more information about the virus.  Take a woman who gave birth in November 2020 as an example — her baby was born with COVID-19 antibodies.

    The new mom, Celine Ng-Chan, 31 from Singapore, was infected with COVID-19 back in March 2020. She was 10 weeks pregnant then and had mild symptoms. Her mother and 2-year-old daughter were also infected after returning from a family holiday in Europe. Her husband and father didn't get the disease. 

    Her baby, son Aldrin, 3.5 kilograms at birth on November 7, at the National University Hospital (NUH) wasn't infected but has antibodies against the virus. 

    "It's very interesting. [The baby's] pediatrician said my Covid-19 antibodies are gone, but Aldrin has Covid-19 antibodies,' Ng-Chan told The Strait Times. "My doctor suspects I have transferred my Covid-19 antibodies to him during my pregnancy," she added. 

    Earlier in April 2020, another pregnant woman who tested positive for COVID-19 when she was 36 weeks pregnant gave birth to a baby with COVID-19 antibodies.

    Are babies born with COVID-19 antibodies immune to the virus?

    The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains that vertical transmission, or passing the virus from the mother to her baby during pregnancy or delivery, is not yet proven.

    However, in a paper published in October 2020 in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, 11 infants who were born to women with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China had detectable levels of IgG antibodies at birth, while five had detectable IgM antibodies.

    IgM is the antibody produced in response to an infection but is usually not transferred from mother to fetus through the placenta. But the smaller IgG antibodies may be transferred passively from mother to fetus through the placenta, the paper noted. 

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    According to associate Professor Tan Hak Koon, chairman at the division of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) in Singapore, it is still not known whether the presence of antibodies at birth offer protection against COVID-19 or how long they can protect the baby from the virus. 

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