Study confirms that Covid-19 vaccines are safe in pregnancy

Study confirms that Covid-19 vaccines are safe in pregnancy

The Canadian study compared the health of vaccinated pregnant women with the health of both unvaccinated pregnant women, and vaccinated non-pregnant women. Stock picture

One of the first studies to look at Covid vaccine side-effects on pregnant women has concluded that mRNA vaccines are safe in pregnancy.

In the study, researchers compared the health of vaccinated pregnant women with the health of both unvaccinated pregnant women and vaccinated non-pregnant women.

The Canadian study found that 7.3% of pregnant women experienced health events requiring time off work or school or needing medical attention — such as headaches, fatigue, and a general feeling of being unwell — within a week after dose two of a Covid-19 mRNA vaccine, compared to 11.3% of vaccinated non-pregnant women.

The study, published in The Lancet, also looked at unvaccinated pregnant women and found 3.2% reported health events within a given week.

Researchers said this suggests some of the symptoms experienced by the vaccinated pregnant women may not be due to the vaccine.

There was also no significant difference in the rates of more serious health events leading to medical consultation in any of the three groups.

The report’s authors say the data provides “reassuring evidence” Covid-19 mRNA vaccines are safe in pregnancy.

They have called for pregnant people to be provided with accurate information about the possible adverse events after vaccination.

“In the early stages of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout there was low vaccine uptake among pregnant people due to concerns about data availability and vaccine safety,” said Manish Sadarangani from the British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute and first author on this study,

“There still is lower than average uptake among non-pregnant women of reproductive age.

"Large, observational studies like ours are crucial for proper understanding of the rates of adverse health events in pregnant women after different doses of Covid-19 vaccination.”

Dr Sadarangani added: “This information should be used to inform pregnant women about the side effects they may experience in the week following vaccination.”

This new study, from The Canadian National Vaccine Safety Network (Canvas) looked at data from participants across seven Canadian provinces and territories between December 2020 and November 2021.

All vaccinated participants were asked to self-report any health events during the seven days following each dose of Covid-19 vaccine. The unvaccinated pregnant control group was asked to record any health problems over the seven days before they filled out the survey.

The HSE says that while Covid-19 is a risk to the health of mother and her baby, most pregnant women who get the virus get mild to moderate symptoms. Stock picture
The HSE says that while Covid-19 is a risk to the health of mother and her baby, most pregnant women who get the virus get mild to moderate symptoms. Stock picture

In total, 191,360 women aged 15-49 years with known pregnancy status completed the first dose survey and 94,937 completed the second dose survey.

The HSE currently says that while Covid-19 is a risk to the health of mother and her baby, most pregnant women who get the virus get mild to moderate symptoms.

The agency also says the risk of the mother passing on the virus to her baby is “low”.

However, pregnant women are, the HSE says, more likely to get very unwell and need treatment in intensive care than non-pregnant women.

The virus may also cause complications for their baby, including premature labour or stillbirth, the HSE says.

It also recommends that if women are planning to get pregnant or trying for a baby, they should get a Covid-19 vaccine and its say that it will not affect their fertility.

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