No serious Covid-19 vaccine side effects in breastfeeding moms and infants

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  • A study assessed the impact of mRNA vaccines on breastfeeding women and their babies.
  • The mothers experienced similar side effects to non-breastfeeding women.
  • The infants also experienced mild symptoms after their mothers were vaccinated.

A new study has found that breastfeeding mothers who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines reported the same post vaccination symptoms as non-breastfeeding women, and with no serious side effects in the breastfed infants.

The research published in Breastfeeding Medicine evaluated a sample of vaccinated breastfeeding women for vaccine-related symptoms and their breastfed children for any serious or non-serious adverse events.

The researchers enrolled 180 breastfeeding women from the United States who received either of the two mRNA vaccines from 14 December 2020 to 1 February 2021.

They recorded the symptoms of the mothers and children and any adverse events by means of interviews and questionnaires for seven days following each vaccine dose. These symptoms were compared to those of vaccinated non-breastfeeding women.

Breastfeeding and vaccination 'both critical'

The study findings show that more than 85% of the lactating women reported temporary symptoms, such as pain, redness, swelling or itching at the injection site. They said that they experienced side effects, such as chills, body aches, fever and nausea. The mothers reported a higher frequency of the symptoms after the second dose, especially those who took the Moderna vaccine.

A small proportion of women reported a reduction in milk supply following the first dose of either vaccine. There was, however, a more significant reduction in milk supply following the second dose: 8% for Pfizer and 23.4% for Moderna – but milk production was reported by the mother to have returned to normal within 72 hours in all cases.

Following the second dose, the most common reported child events were irritability and poor sleep, with significantly more drowsiness reported for children whose mothers received the Moderna vaccine.

“Our results should encourage lactating women to get the Covid-19 vaccine and to continue to breastfeed their infants. They do not have to choose one over the other. Both are critical,” co-author Prof Christina Chambers said in a press statement.

*For more Covid-19 research, science and news, click here. You can also sign up for our Daily Dose newsletter here.

READ | Study finds no link between Pfizer and Moderna vaccine and selected serious health outcomes

READ | How does Covid-19 impact heart disease? A new study finds out

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