MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — New research out of Minnesota is suggesting that COVID-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant women and their babies.
According to a new study co-authored by researchers at Twin Cities-based HealthPartners, COVID vaccines given to pregnant women do not appear to cause preterm birth or small-for-gestational age at birth for the child.
“This data is reassuring and paints an even clearer picture about COVID-19 vaccine safety among pregnant people,” said Dr. Elyse Kharbanda, senior author on the study and executive director of research with HealthPartners Institute. “I hope anyone who is unvaccinated and pregnant will look at this data, as well as the other data that’s available, and feel comfortable about getting vaccinated against the virus.”
The study, which was published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,” looked at 40,000 births after COVID-19 vaccines became available in the United States. Roughly a fourth of the people studied received one or more doses of a vaccine.
The researchers found that the rates for preterm birth and small-for-gestational age at birth were no higher among patients who were vaccinated during their second and third trimesters than those who were unvaccinated, suggesting that the vaccines are safe for pregnant women.
Preterm birth is when a baby is born before the 37th week of pregnancy and small-for-gestational age birth is when a baby’s weight is below the 10th percentile for its gestational age.
The study did not look at women who received the vaccine during their first trimester, as vaccines were not widely available before February 2021.
While researchers say that skepticism over vaccines is understandable, they note that severe COVID-19 illness is also a risk for pregnant women. As a result, health experts across the world have recommended that pregnant women get vaccinated.
“We now have the data to show that COVID-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant people, and COVID-19 infection is really unsafe for pregnant people. So, it’s important to consider vaccination if you’re pregnant,” said Kharbanda, who previous worked on a study showing that mRNA vaccines aren’t associated with miscarriage.
The data used in the study came from HealthPartners and seven other large health systems in the CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink, a research networks that tracks vaccines licensed and used in the United States.