Pregnant women who are vaccinated against Covid are ‘significantly’ less likely to suffer a stillbirth compared to those not vaccinated, research has found.
There had been widespread safety concerns over stings among pregnant women, which saw them become one of the least vaccinated groups in the country.
Their fears were seized upon by anti-vaxx conspiracy theorists, who claimed the stings were linked to stillbirths and other problems during pregnancy.
But British researchers who looked at the results of more than 20 studies involving 120,000 pregnant women found that those who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine had a 15% reduced risk compared to women who weren’t shot.
Researchers say this may be because unvaccinated pregnant women become more seriously ill with the virus, which then increases the risk of harm to their babies.
And there was no difference in the rate of miscarriage, premature birth or heavy bleeding during pregnancy between vaccinated and unvaccinated.
The findings provide women with “much-needed reassurance” about the safety and benefits of getting bitten during pregnancy, the experts said.
A team of British researchers, who reviewed more than 20 studies involving 120,000 pregnant women who received mRNA vaccines, also found that the jab is 90% effective in preventing infection.
Pfizer or Moderna jabs were also not linked to increased adverse side effects for women or their babies, results showed
Q&A: Everything you need to know about Covid vaccines during pregnancy
Are vaccines safe for pregnant women?
There is no evidence that vaccines cause a different reaction in pregnant women.
The side effects reported by pregnant women are similar to those seen in non-pregnant women.
Real-world data, however, shows expectant mothers face a greater risk of Covid, especially if they become infected in their third trimester or have underlying health conditions.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists warns pregnant women are slightly more likely to give birth prematurely or suffer a stillbirth if they catch Covid.
And NHS chiefs revealed last month that one in five Covid patients on ventilators was a pregnant woman who had not been bitten.
Could vaccines harm babies in the womb?
Experts have found no evidence the bites can harm babies in the womb – and insist there is no reason to suspect they would either.
Covid vaccines do not contain ingredients known to be harmful to pregnant women or a developing baby.
They also do not contain organisms that can multiply in the body, so they cannot infect an unborn baby in the womb.
Vaccine studies in animals to examine effects on pregnancy have shown no evidence that the bites cause harm.
Research from six studies involving 40,000 women shows that vaccines do not increase the risk of miscarriage, premature delivery, stillbirth, or the baby being born smaller than usual or with birth defects.
Miscarriages occur in 20-25% of pregnancies in the UK, while stillbirths occur in one in 200 pregnancies in Britain.
Can vaccines make it harder to get pregnant?
There is also no evidence that Covid vaccines hinder a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.
The Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists and the British Fertility Society say there is “absolutely no evidence, and no theoretical reason, that any of the vaccines can affect fertility in women or men.”
But some concerns have been raised as thousands of women in the UK have recorded disrupted periods after receiving the shots.
But millions of Covid vaccines have been given to women.
Side effects included heavier or lighter bleeding than usual, as well as more painful periods. But the MHRA said the changes are “transitional in nature”, meaning they are short-lived.
Menstrual problems are common – with a quarter of women of childbearing age reporting them at any time – and can be triggered by stress.
Why were vaccines not initially offered to pregnant women?
Like other vaccines and drugs, clinical trials of Covid jabs did not include pregnant women.
This meant that UK vaccine advisers, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI), did not have enough evidence to recommend that pregnant women get vaccinated during the initial winter vaccine rollout. latest.
But actual data from the United States — where 90,000 pregnant women received doses of Pfizer or Moderna — revealed no safety concerns.
The JCVI therefore advised that these jabs be offered in the UK.
And later studies found that jabs were just as effective in pregnant women as in those who weren’t pregnant.
The meta-analysis looked at stillbirths when Delta ruled the world, so it’s unclear if the results still apply to the milder variant of Omicron.
At the start of 2021, pregnant women were not offered the jab in the UK out of caution, as the original trials did not include them for ethical reasons.
But in April last year, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) urged pregnant women to come forward after real-world data from the United States and Israel revealed no source of concern.
But uptake has remained slow among pregnant women, with just half of pregnant women in England vaccinated, citing unfounded concerns about the effect of the vaccine on their babies.
Researchers from St George’s, the University of London and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) have said there is an ‘immediate need’ for strong evidence to support pregnant women considering vaccination.
They reviewed 23 studies involving 117,562 women from around the world who were either double-shot during pregnancy or not vaccinated.
Almost all were vaccinated with the mRNA jabs made by Pfizer or Moderna – both used for the UK cohort.
The results, published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, showed that two doses of mRNA pricks were 89.5% effective in preventing infection seven days after the second dose.
Bitten pregnant women were no longer likely to miscarry, give birth early or suffer placental abruption – when the placenta separates from the inner lining of the uterus before birth, the data showed.
And there was also no increased risk of the mother developing blood clots, heavy bleeding after birth, or dying during pregnancy, while the newborns were no longer likely to have low birthweight. birth to be admitted to intensive care.
Professor Asma Khalil, lead author of the study and an expert in obstetrics and maternal medicine at St George’s, said the findings should help tackle vaccine hesitancy among pregnant women.
He said: “Although many things are returning to normal, there is still a very clear and substantial risk of Covid 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.
“This document shows that vaccination against Covid is both safe and effective and we hope this will help reassure pregnant women to accept their vaccine offer in the future.”
Dr Edward Morris, RCOG Chairman, said: “We know that women have been reluctant to get vaccinated due to concerns about the effect on their babies.
“We now have strong evidence to show that the vaccine does not increase the risk of adverse effects and is the best way to protect both women and their babies.
“We would recommend all pregnant women to receive the Covid vaccine and the booster vaccine.
“Covid is still prevalent and if you contract the virus when you are pregnant you are at higher risk of serious illness.”
The current advice is that pregnant women get the Covid shot as soon as possible if they haven’t been bitten yet and not to wait until after giving birth.
The first and second Pfizer and Moderna injections are offered to pregnant women eight to 12 weeks apart, with a booster given three months after the second dose.
These vaccines do not contain live coronavirus and cannot infect them or their unborn baby in the womb.
Dozens of studies have shown that Covid vaccines have no negative impact on pregnancy or the health of newborns.
But experts say vaccine hesitancy among pregnant women has been exacerbated by anti-vaxx misinformation and changing advice on whether pregnant women should be shot.
Expectant mothers were not included in early clinical trials of the shots – which is standard protocol for vaccines and other drugs – so health chiefs initially did not have enough evidence to recommend the shots to the group.
And real-world data shows that catching Covid during pregnancy increases the risk of being hospitalized and admitted to intensive care, as well as suffering from stillbirth, pre-eclampsia and premature delivery.
UK data shows almost all pregnant women with Covid who need hospital treatment or intensive care have not been vaccinated.