How Long Do Babies Carry Their Mother’s Immunity?

Pregnant-mom-passes-immunity-to-baby.During the last three months of pregnancy, antibodies from the mother are passed to her unborn baby through the placenta.

This type of immunity is called passive immunity because the baby has been given antibodies rather than making them itself. Antibodies are special proteins that the immune system produces to help protect the body against bacteria and viruses.

The amount and type of antibodies passed to the baby depends on the mother’s immunity. For example, if the mother has had chickenpox, she will have developed immunity against the condition and some of the chickenpox antibodies will be passed to the baby. However, if the mother hasn’t had chickenpox, the baby will not be protected.

Immunity in newborn babies is only temporary and starts to decrease after the first few weeks or months. Breast milk also contains antibodies, which means that babies who are breastfed have passive immunity for longer. The thick, yellowish milk (colostrum) produced for the first few days following birth is particularly rich in antibodies.

Premature babies are at higher risk of developing an illness because their immune systems are not as strong and they haven’t had as many antibodies passed to them.

As newborn immunity is only temporary, it is important to begin childhood immunisations when your baby is two months old. This applies to babies who are either premature or full-term.

The first immunisation, given when your baby is two months old, includes whooping cough and Hib (haemophilus influenza type b) because immunity to these conditions decreases the fastest. Passive immunity to measles, mumps and rubella can last for up to a year, which is why the MMR vaccine is given just after your baby’s first birthday.

Further information:

* Provided by Pediatric Safety

About the Author

NHS Choices ( is the UK’s biggest health website. It provides a comprehensive health information service to help put you in control of your healthcare.


2 Responses to “How Long Do Babies Carry Their Mother’s Immunity?”

  1. Hi,

    Very important and informative post.

    It is very important to know every tiny bits that can protect your baby. It is best to be known from earlier that what will help you and what is going to create a headache.

    It is very well described by you and leaves a good impact on mind by just reading it. This is the topic at which most of the mom’s didn’t have an idea. Immunity is the most important thing in our body which helps us in surviving.

    Thanks for sharing a helpful knowledge, keep going like this.
    Have a nice weekend.

    ~ Harshwardhan

    • Stefanie Zucker Stefanie Zucker says:

      Thanks Harshwardhan…it is helpful to know how long babies carry their mother’s immunity – especially since most vaccines cannot be administered to newborns, so they must rely on their mother’s immunity for protection. Thanks for stopping by…and for the nice comments! We always appreciate knowing when our advice is helpful! 🙂

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