A new study by researchers at King’s School of Immunology and Microbial Sciences, published in Nature Immunology, has looked at the immune systems of babies born to mothers exposed to SARS-CoV-2 at different stages of pregnancy .
They found that babies born to mothers with a recent or ongoing infection had a higher percentage of cells known to be involved in the rapid response to infection.
This suggests that the infection in the mother has altered the baby’s immune system. The study also found that the mother transmitted antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 to her baby through the placenta, known as transfer of passive immunity . This was particularly evident if the infection occurred before pregnancy.
The next step will be to find out if these immune changes allow the newborn to better respond to later infections after birth.
The study authors will also evaluate how the maternal infection may be changing the baby’s immune system and how long these changes could last.