Scientists have found a link between COVID-19 vaccinations in mothers and a lower rate of virus-related hospitalizations in their babies.
What You Need To Know
- A new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that infants 6 months and younger whose mothers were received mRNA vaccines during pregnancy were 61% less likely to be hospitalized than babies whose mothers were not vaccinated
- Previous studies have found antibodies in umbilical cord blood, but it had been unclear how well protected from COVID-19 the babies of vaccinated mothers are
- Eighty-four percent of the babies in the study who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and 88% of those treated in intensive care units were born to mothers who were not inoculated
- The CDC study adds to mounting evidence supporting the benefits of vaccination for pregnant women
A new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that infants 6 months and younger whose mothers were received mRNA vaccines during pregnancy were 61% less likely to be hospitalized than babies whose mothers were not vaccinated.
The study analyzed data from 20 children’s hospitals across 17 states from July 2021 to January of this year.
Previous studies have found COVID-19 antibodies in umbilical cord blood, but it had been unclear how well protected from the virus the babies of vaccinated mothers are.
“The data CDC is publishing today provides real-world evidence that getting a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy might help protect infants less than 6 months of age from hospitalization due to COVID-19,” said Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman, chief of the CDC’s infant outcomes monitoring research and prevention branch.
Eighty-four percent of the 176 babies in the study who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and 88% of the 43 who were treated in intensive care units were born to mothers who were not inoculated. The lone infant in the study to die from the virus also had an unvaccinated mother.
“I cannot emphasize enough how today's findings reinforce the importance of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, both to protect the people who are pregnant and to help protect their babies,” Meaney-Delman said.
The CDC recommends anyone who is pregnant, is breastfeeding or might become pregnant in the future to get vaccinated.
There is currently no vaccine on the horizon for children 6 months or younger.
The new study found better protection for infants of mothers who were vaccinated later in their pregnancies compared to earlier, but Dr. Manish Patel, the paper's lead author, stressed that “protection was high throughout pregnancy.” Meaney-Delman said more research is needed on the conferment of antibodies from booster shots.
Vaccines, including boosters, can be administered at any time during pregnancy. Meaney-Delman recommended that pregnant women get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The study did not analyze women who were fully vaccinated before becoming pregnant, although a small number had received their initial shot before conceiving and completed the regimen afterward, Patel said.
The CDC study adds to mounting evidence supporting the benefits of vaccination for pregnant women.
A study published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that pregnant women who contract mild to severe COVID-19 are about three times more likely to develop complications leading to death or severe illness than uninfected mothers.
Another paper out of Scotland published last month found the rates of baby deaths and premature births were higher among mothers who were infected with the coronavirus 28 or fewer days before their delivery date.
And a Boston University study found no significant difference in conception rates between unvaccinated couples and couples in which at least one partner had received at least one vaccine dose. The researchers, however, did observe that couples with male partners who tested positive for COVID-19 within 60 days of a given menstrual cycle were 18% less likely to conceive.
Vaccination rates among pregnant women lagged behind the general population much of last year, but Meaney-Delman said that has changed, with 67% now being fully inoculated, according to CDC data.
“Early in the pandemic, I was having trouble convincing pregnant women of the benefits of vaccination,” Meaney-Delman said. “And I think it's getting easier because they're hearing it not only from me, but from their family members who are encouraging them to be vaccinated as well. So really taking a whole of community approach.”
Early research has found no evidence that the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines cause any serious side effects in pregnant women.