Human milk (HM) of mothers infected with or vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 contains specific immunoglobulins, which may protect their offspring against infection or severe disease. The time frame and duration after infection or vaccination, during which these immunoglobulins are detected in HM, as well as the major factors that influence their levels, have not been fully elucidated. This systematic review aimed to collect the existing literature and describe the immune response, specifically regarding the immunoglobulins in HM after COVID-19 disease or vaccination in non-immune women. We conducted a systematic search of PubMed and Scopus databases to identify studies published up until 19 March 2023. In total, 975 articles were screened, and out of which 75 were identified as being relevant and were finally included in this review. Infection by SARS-CoV-2 virus primarily induces an IgA immune response in HM, while vaccination predominantly elevates IgG levels. These immunoglobulins give HM a neutralizing capacity against SARS-CoV-2, highlighting the importance of breastfeeding during the pandemic. The mode of immune acquisition (infection or vaccination) and immunoglobulin levels in maternal serum are factors that seem to influence immunoglobulin levels in HM. Further studies are required to determine the impact of other factors, such as infection severity, lactation period, parity, maternal age and BMI on immunoglobulin level in HM.
- Pregnant women