Human Milk Antibodies Against SARS-CoV-2: A Longitudinal Follow-Up Study

Hannah G. Juncker, M. Romijn, Veerle N. Loth, Tom G. Caniels, Christianne J.M. de Groot, Dasja Pajkrt, Marit J. van Gils, Johannes B. van Goudoever*, Britt J. van Keulen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Human milk contains antibodies against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) following Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). These antibodies may serve as protection against COVID-19 in infants. However, the evolution of these human milk antibodies over time is unclear. Research Aim: To elucidate the evolution of immunoglobulin A (IgA) against SARS-CoV-2 in human milk after a SARS-CoV-2 infection. Methods: This longitudinal follow-up study included lactating mothers (N = 24) who had participated in the COVID MILK study. To assess the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, serum and human milk samples were collected 14–143 days after the onset of clinical symptoms related to COVID-19. Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay was used to detect antibodies against the ectodomain of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Results: SARS-CoV-2 antibodies remain present up to 5 months (143 days) in human milk after onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Overall, SARS-CoV-2 IgA in human milk seems to gradually decrease over time. Conclusion: Human milk from SARS-CoV-2 convalescent lactating mothers contains specific IgA antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 spike protein up to at least 5 months post-infection. Passive viral immunity can be transferred via human milk and may serve as protection for infants against COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-491
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Human Lactation
Issue number3
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

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