COVID-19 vaccine is safe for pregnant women - study

Researchers found that vaccination against COVID-19 during pregnancy is not associated with a higher risk of preterm birth or stillbirth.

Pregnant woman receives the coronavirus vaccine in the US (photo credit: REUTERS/HANNAH BEIER/FILE PHOTO)
Pregnant woman receives the coronavirus vaccine in the US
(photo credit: REUTERS/HANNAH BEIER/FILE PHOTO)

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 during pregnancy is not associated with a higher risk of preterm birth or stillbirth, according to a new study published by the CHEO Research Institute and the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Medicine in mid-August.

The study, which was peer-reviewed and published in the BMJ, can help with evidence-based decision-making about the risks and benefits of getting vaccinated during pregnancy.

"Our study found no evidence of increased risk of preterm birth, very preterm birth, small-for-gestational-age birth, or stillbirth following COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy." said the lead author Dr. Deshayne Fell, Scientist at the CHEO Research Institute and Associate Professor in the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Medicine. "The results of this study provide further evidence for care providers and pregnant people about the safety of COVID-19 vaccinations during pregnancy."

What did they find in their study?

The SARS-CoV-2 infection has been associated with higher risks of complications during pregnancy, but the COVID-19 vaccination has been shown to be effective against COVID-19 in pregnant women and their newborns.

Pregnancy (Illustrative) (credit: PXFUEL)Pregnancy (Illustrative) (credit: PXFUEL)

Researchers conducted a project that was supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada through the Vaccine Surveillance Reference Group and the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, which sought to assess the risk of preterm birth or stillbirth after they administered the COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy.

Using the BORN Ontario birth registry, the provincial birth registry based out of CHEO, the researchers identified all liveborn and stillborn infants with a gestational age of at least 20 weeks or a birth weight of at least 500g born to Ontario residents between May 1 and December 31, 2021. They then linked it to the COVacON, the province's COVID-19 immunization database.

The study took into account other potentially influential factors of stillbirths and preterm births which include the mother's age at delivery, pre-pregnancy body mass index, reported smoking or substance abuse during pregnancy and many other things.

Out of the 85,162 births, 43,099 mothers were vaccinated against COVID-19 during their pregnancies.

"Future studies to assess similar outcomes after immunization with nonmRNA COVID-19 vaccine types during pregnancy should be a research priority."

Study

There are still important questions that need to be answered in need of future research.

"Future studies to assess similar outcomes after immunization with nonmRNA COVID-19 vaccine types during pregnancy should be a research priority," the researchers noted.