Ever since the coronavirus pandemic struck the planet, life has changed in unprecedented ways. While vaccinations for the killer virus are now widely available, they do not offer complete protection from the menace. The various vaccines have varying levels of efficacy against the virus that keeps mutating. There are skeptics who have expressed their doubts over the usefulness of COVID-19 vaccines openly. However, a reduction in stillbirths seems to be one area of hope. Medical experts are of the opinion that vaccines are useful, especially for women who have conceived.
mRNA vaccines lead to a 15 percent reduction in stillbirths
According to the findings of a new study, COVID-19 vaccination with mRNA vaccines during pregnancy can lead to a 15 percent reduction in stillbirths. This paper shows vaccination during pregnancy offers up to 90 percent protection against the virus and it is safe both for the mother and the infant. It covered 23 studies involving over 117,000 COVID-19 vaccinated women who were pregnant and vaccinated with mRNA vaccines. They mostly took vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna. The findings are now available in Nature Communications.
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While the vaccination rate among women has picked up pace, some pregnant women hesitate to take COVID vaccines out of concern for the possibility of causing harm to their unborn babies. Asma Khalil, the lead author of this paper, said: “Our findings should help to address vaccine hesitancy in pregnant women. Although many things are returning to normal, there is still a very clear and substantial risk of COVID-19 infection for mothers and their babies, including an increased risk of premature birth and stillbirth. It is essential that as many people as possible receive their vaccines to reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy.” Khalil is University of London’s Professor of Obstetrics and Maternal Medicine.
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’s President Dr. Edward Morris is also highly supportive of the mRNA vaccines. He said the hesitation harbored by women about the harm that can be caused by COVID-19 vaccination should be dispelled by this study’s findings. He added: “We would recommend all pregnant women have the COVID-19 vaccine and the booster vaccine. COVID-19 is still prevalent and if you do get the virus when you’re pregnant then you are at higher risk of severe illness.”
Khalil said the team wanted to check out the safety of the vaccine. However, the finding that its use can reduce the occurrence of stillbirths was quite amazing. She added: “The best way to protect pregnant women and their babies is to get the COVID vaccine. Even if a pregnant woman thinks they will be fine if they get COVID, that it will be mild for them, there’s a potential advantage for the baby.”
Another U.S. study points out that pregnant women who have COVID-19 at the time of delivery are at a higher risk of having a stillbirth. The data unveiled by the CDC covered 1.2 million childbirths from March 2020 to September 2021. Though the authors didn’t track whether or not the mothers had been vaccinated, they saw that the Delta strain of the virus caused more stillbirths in COVID infected women. The data also showed pregnant women coping with COVID-19 are at risk of having preterm babies.
* While the data looks promising, it should be noted that five of the authors of the study published in Nature Communications listed competing interests in the ethics declaration accompanying their study — and the researcher who gave final approval of the version of the study to be published also serves as primary investigator of the Pfizer COVID vaccination in pregnancy trial. If you are pregnant and considering vaccination, it is recommended to gather data from various sources, relying more on those with no potential to produce biased results.