Researchers in Scotland reported that Covid-positive pregnant women were at higher risk of severe disease and more likely to lose their babies soon after birth than other women who gave birth during this pandemic.
The risk of losing a baby due to stillbirth or in the first month of life was highest for women who gave birth within four weeks of the onset Covid infection. There were 22.6 deaths per 1,000 births. This rate is four times higher than the rate in Scotland (5.6 deaths per 1,000).
The researchers found that all those deaths were in pregnancies of unvaccinated mothers. “Quite strikingly, no baby deaths occurred in women who had SARS-CoV-2 and were vaccinated,” said Dr. Sarah J. Stock, the paper’s first author, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the University of Edinburgh Usher Institute in Exeter.
The study also showed a higher rate preterm births among women with Covid. This is compared to 8% among other women.
The vaccination rates of pregnant women in Scotland are the same as those in the United States. Despite the protections provided by vaccinations, only one third of pregnant women are vaccinated for the coronavirus. Early research has not found any evidence that Moderna and Pfizer BioNTech vaccines pose serious risks to pregnancy.
According to the Scottish study, almost all of the infections in pregnant women were either not fully vaccinated or only partially vaccinated. Only 11% of all infections were reported by fully vaccinated pregnant ladies.
Unvaccinated pregnant woman were four times more likely than those who were vaccinated to be admitted to the hospital.
Dr. Stock and her coworkers analysed data from the Covid-19 Pregnancy in Scotland Study, which is a national cohort of all women who became pregnant or became pregnant between March 1, 2020 and October 20, 211. The team tracked 144,546 pregnancies among 130,875 women over this period.
One weakness in the study is the fact that the authors didn’t adjust for confounding variables, such as maternal age or pre-existing conditions. This could lead to poor pregnancy outcomes regardless coronavirus infection or Covid diagnosis.
The study found that vaccination rates are low for pregnant women all over the board, but they are lower for younger women and those with lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The authors stated that future analyses will include these demographic and other confounding factors.
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Dr. Stock and colleagues noted that there are still significant differences in infant loss, premature birth, and hospitalization rates between vaccinated versus unvaccinated mothers.
They encouraged pregnant women in the United States to get vaccinated.
“The key take home we’d love to get across is that really the best way to protect mother and baby is vaccination at the earliest opportunity, and that can be done at any stage of pregnancy,” said Aziz Sheikh, a population health researcher at the University of Edinburgh and another of the paper’s authors.
“We have enough information to bring the really strong message around promoting vaccination in pregnancy now,” said Rachael Wood, a consultant in public health medicine in Public Health Scotland, and a member of the study team.
Source: NY Times