Breastfeeding after maternal immunisation during pregnancy: providing immunological protection to the newborn: a review

Vaccine. 2014 Apr 1;32(16):1786-92. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.01.083. Epub 2014 Feb 13.


Vaccination during pregnancy results in an augmentation of disease specific maternal antibodies. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) is mainly transferred through the placenta during the third trimester of pregnancy, while secretory Immunoglobulin A (sIgA) is passed through breast milk. At birth, newborns are partially protected against infectious diseases by these antibodies. This review aims to provide an overview of the effect of vaccination during pregnancy on the immunological protection of the newborn by the presence of disease specific sIgA antibodies in breast milk and their possible protective function against disease. Our search produced 11 relevant papers; 1 on pertussis, 7 on pneumococcus, 2 on influenza and 1 on meningococcus. All of the studies in this review that measured disease specific antibodies in breast milk (n=8 papers), stressed the beneficial effect of maternal vaccination during pregnancy on the amount of disease specific sIgA in breast milk. Only a few studies demonstrated a potential protective effect, particularly with influenza vaccines. In an era where maternal vaccination is increasingly considered as a valuable strategy to protect both the mother and infant, further research is needed to assess the effect on breast milk sIgA and to understand the potentially beneficial effects to the infant.

Keywords: Breastfeeding; Pregnancy; Secretory IgA; Vaccination.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Maternally-Acquired*
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory / immunology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Milk, Human / immunology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Vaccination*


  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory