PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Doctors say protection is key in the fight against COVID-19. Now doctors at UPMC Magee and Pitt are testing the vaccine in pregnant and postpartum women. The goal is to see if the vaccine can transfer protective antibodies to newborns.

“We are looking to gain an even better understanding of how immunizing the mother affects the baby, both health wise and longevity of their immune response,” said Doctor Richard Beigi.

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Beigi is the president of UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital and one of the physicians behind the study MOMI-Vax.

MOMI-VAX is a multi-center study that is looking to enroll pregnant and postpartum women that have either already gotten the vaccine or plan to get the vaccine.

The study will take place at Magee and 20 other centers, enrolling about 1,000 pregnant and postpartum women. Beigi says the goal is twofold.

“The first major purpose is to better understand the immune response in the mother and what that means for her and her baby inside or also when the baby is born,” said Beigi.

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“The second goal is to gain insight into the impact of taking these vaccines during pregnancy,” he said.

A critical component is to see if mothers can share their antibodies through breastfeeding, which would give protection to both the mom and baby.

“When mom takes a vaccine, those antibodies cross into the baby’s circulation and provide protection for a baby when it’s a newborn. That’s an incredibly powerful intervention,” said Beigi.

He says he hopes this study will provide further insight and battle any misinformation out there.

“I think our study will add to the ever-growing body of objective information that these vaccines are quite safe,” he said.

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It will be a little while before the study results are available. Researchers plan to follow the participants for up to a year after pregnancy or a year after the baby is born.