Wednesday 23 September 2020

Dutch researchers find Covid-19 antibodies in breast milk, call for donations

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Researchers at Amsterdam’s UMC teaching hospital and a number of other institutes have found coronavirus antibodies in the breast milk of women who have tested positive for the virus.

The research team are now looking into whether the milk could be used to prevent coronavirus infections in vulnerable people during an eventual second wave, possibly in the form of flavoured ice cubes.

They have already found that the antibodies are not destroyed by pasteurising the milk, which is necessary to make it usable by other people.

‘We think when drinking the milk, the antibodies attach themselves to the surface of our mucous membranes,’ Hans van Goudoever, head of the Emma children’s hospital at the UMC, said. ‘Then they attack the virus particles before they force their way into the body.’

The UMC has now started a campaign to find 1,000 women who are willing to donate 100ml of breast milk for the research project.

‘Women who may have had coronavirus without noticing it may also have made antibodies which can be found in milk,’ Van Goudoever said. ‘So we are looking for mothers who may have been infected as well.’ Even if this turns out not to be the case, their milk can be stored for further research, if they give permission, he said.

Women who want to take part are urged to contact covid.milk@amsterdamumc.nl.

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