COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women may protect newborns, study finds

Vaccination against COVID-19 during pregnancy is already recommended to prevent serious illness and death in pregnant women, but a new study shows that the vaccine can also protect a mother’s newborn baby.

Completing a series of two-dose COVID-19 vaccinations during pregnancy may help prevent hospitalization with the virus in infants, according to the study, released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. less than six months.

A group of researchers from the Overcoming COVID-19 Network conducted the study in 20 pediatric hospitals in 17 states between July 1, 2021 and January 17, 2022.

Among 176 hospitalized infants with COVID-19 under the age of six months, 84% were born to mothers who were not vaccinated during pregnancy.

A pregnant woman holds her belly on September 27, 2016 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Subsequently, the efficacy of maternal vaccination of a 2-dose COVID-19 mRNA vaccine during pregnancy against COVID-19 hospitalization in infants was 61%, showing that completion of vaccination during pregnancy was associated with a reduced risk of COVID-19-associated hospitalizations in the neonate. babies.

The study also found that protection was higher in infants whose mothers were vaccinated later in pregnancy as opposed to earlier.

“This study provides concrete evidence of the protection of COVID-19 vaccination performed during pregnancy to prevent hospitalization and serious complications in infants,” the CDC told FOX Television Stations Group. “Prior to this assessment, we did not have epidemiological studies demonstrating this, so we were very happy to share these results. We believe this is the type of evidence that expectant and pregnant mothers have been looking for, and it will help to inform decisions to vaccinate as soon as possible.”

The authors noted some limitations, including the inability to assess specific variants. During the study period, the delta variant was the predominant variant in the United States until mid-December, after which the omicron variant became the predominant strain.

The analysis also did not assess whether pregnant women were infected with COVID-19 before or during pregnancy, which could have provided maternal antibodies and affected the outcome.

Antibody transfer in pregnant women

Evidence from other vaccine-preventable diseases suggests that maternal vaccination may protect infants, especially during the high-risk first six months of life, through passive transplacental antibody transfer.

Meanwhile, recent studies of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy suggest the possibility of transplacental transfer of COVID-19-specific antibodies that could provide protection to infants.

A study published in September by NYU Langone Health in New York looked at 36 newborns whose mothers received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine during pregnancy.

The researchers found that 100% of these infants had protective antibodies at birth, suggesting protection against COVID-19 in a newborn.

CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant women

Currently, the CDC recommends that women who are pregnant, nursing, trying to get pregnant now, or who may get pregnant in the future get vaccinated and stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations.

A study conducted by the CDC last year found that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines appeared to be safe for pregnant women and “indicated no obvious safety signals with respect to pregnancy.”

COVID-19 in pregnancy is associated with severe illness and death, and pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to experience premature birth, stillbirth, and other pregnancy complications.

RELATED: 20% of UK critically ill COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated pregnant women

According to a recently published national study, pregnant women with COVID-19 may be at higher risk for common pregnancy complications that progress to something even more serious.

The study, led by Dr. Torri Metz, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the University of Utah, aimed to expand on this research and found that pregnant women with COVID-19 were more likely overall to develop serious complications or die during pregnancy than those who were not infected.

Metz said the research adds that “people with SARS-CoV-2 are really at an increased risk of these common complications progressing to something more that can be life-threatening or really serious morbidity.”

RELATED: Pregnant women regret not having received the COVID-19 vaccine

Another CDC study from November showed that pregnant women with COVID-19 faced increased risks of stillbirth compared to uninfected women, and that risk was four times higher after the delta variant appeared.

Additionally, infants are at risk for life-threatening complications from COVID-19, including acute respiratory failure.

The research authors noted that further evaluation should be done to examine the timing of vaccination before pregnancy versus during pregnancy.

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