Study: Severe COVID complications more common in unvaccinated pregnant women

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Being Unvaccinated Puts Unborn Children at Risk, Study Concludes.The key take home message that we’d love to get across is that the better way to protect mom and baby is vaccination at the earliest opportunity, Dr. Aziz Sheikh, Study Co-Author, via 'USA Today'.and that can be done at any stage in pregnancy, Dr. Aziz Sheikh, Study Co-Author, via 'USA Today'.We’re seeing similar trends overall but our total number of infections (in the U.S.) is much larger than Scotland, so we have seen more maternal deaths, Dr. Kathryn Gray, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, via 'USA Today'.When the vaccine first came out, we had very little knowledge about it ... and being hesitant about it was very reasonable because we hadn’t even studied it in pregnant individuals, Dr. Kathryn Gray, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, via 'USA Today'.and being hesitant about it was very reasonable because we hadn’t even studied it in pregnant individuals, Dr. Kathryn Gray, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, via 'USA Today'.But now, thousands and thousands of individuals have gotten the vaccine ... , Dr. Kathryn Gray, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, via 'USA Today'.and we see that it’s safe and effective and protect both mom and baby from adverse outcomes, Dr. Kathryn Gray, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, via 'USA Today'.

Researchers say more should be done to increase vaccination rates in pregnant women, among whomo rates are much lower than those of women in the general population.

A team at the University of Edinburgh analyzed data relating to all 87,000 pregnant women in Scotland between the start of vaccinations in December 2020 and October 2021.

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Since the start of Scotland’s vaccination program, 4,950 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed during pregnancy, with 77% in unvaccinated women.

Those numbers were similar to rates in the United States. In September, only 31% of pregnant women were fully vaccinated, compared with 64% of the age-eligible general population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Scotland team determined women who have COVID-19 toward the end of their pregnancy are vulnerable to birth-related complications. Their findings showed that preterm births, stillbirths and newborn deaths are more common among women who have the virus 28 days or fewer before their delivery date.

The majority of complications, which also include COVID-related critical care admissions, occurred in unvaccinated women, the team wrote in a release published in medicalxpress.com.

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They found the extended perinatal death rate — defined as death in the womb after 24 weeks of pregnancy or in the first 28 days after birth — among babies born within 28 days of their mother developing COVID-19 was 23 per 1,000 births.

All baby deaths occurred to women who were unvaccinated against COVID-19 at the time of infection.

“These data were then compared to the background rates of extended perinatal deaths and preterm births, which are the rates for all babies born in Scotland regardless of whether their mother had previously had COVID-19 or been vaccinated,” the team wrote.

The perinatal mortality and preterm birth rates in women within 28 days of receiving the vaccine 4 per 1,000 and 8%, respectively, “providing further reassurance on the safety of vaccination during pregnancy,” they wrote.

The full study can be read in the journal Nature Medicine.

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