Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for pregnant women? New study finds surprising results

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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COVID-19 vaccines may be safe during pregnancy, suggests a study that found no evidence of injury to the placenta in pregnant women who received the jab.

The first-of-its-kind study, published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, adds to the growing literature that COVID-19 vaccines are safe during pregnancy.

While some countries like India do not recommend pregnant and lactating women to take the vaccine, nations such as the US and Brazil do not bar such women from vaccinating. The safety of administering COVID-19 vaccines to women during pregnancy still remains as a subject of discussion.

The placenta is the first organ that forms during pregnancy and it performs duties for most of the fetus’s organs while they are still forming, such as providing oxygen while the lungs develop and nutrition while the gut is forming. Additionally, the placenta manages hormones and the immune system and tells the mother’s body to welcome and nurture the fetus rather than reject it as a foreign intruder.

In the new study, the authors collected placentas from 84 vaccinated patients and 116 unvaccinated patients who delivered at Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago. They pathologically examined the whole of the placenta and microscopically the following birth. Most patients received vaccines, either Moderna or Pfizer, during their third trimester.

“The placenta is like the black box in an airplane. If something goes wrong with a pregnancy, we usually see changes in the placenta that can help us figure out what happened. From what we can tell, the COVID-19 vaccine does not damage the placenta,” the corresponding author Dr. Jeffery Goldstein, assistant professor of pathology at Northwestern University, said.

Last year, the scientists had published a study in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology and it found that placentas of pregnant women who tested positive for the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus showed evidence of abnormal blood flow between mother and baby in utero.

In April, the scientists published a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showing pregnant women make COVID antibodies after vaccination and successfully transfer them to their fetus.

Related: One dose of COVID-19 vaccine cuts infection rate by 65%; Study shows