Early COVID-19 shot in pregnancy better for baby: Study
USA: Early COVID-19 vaccination of pregnant women in their third trimester leads to better transfer of protective antibodies to the newborn baby than women who received their shot close to delivery, finds a recent study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Dr. Emily Miller, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine maternal fetal medicine physician, and colleagues builds upon recently published research from an external institution that found similar findings in 10 umbilical cord samples. This new Northwestern study examined 28 cord blood samples.
The scientists analyzed the blood of 27 pregnant women who had received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in their third trimester and the umbilical cord blood of their 28 newborns (26 singletons, one set of twins).
"This just gives extra fuel for people who are on the fence or just think, 'Maybe I'll wait until after I deliver,'" said study co-author Dr. Emily Miller.
"We strongly recommend you get the vaccine while pregnant. But if you're fearing vaccination might harm the baby, these data tell us quite the opposite. The vaccine is a mechanism to protect your baby, and the sooner you get it, the better," Miller said in a university news release.
Key findings of the study include:
- The women had a strong immune response after vaccination, suggesting that the vaccines protect pregnant women from COVID-19.
- It also found that a longer time between vaccination and delivery was associated with greater transfer of COVID-19 antibodies to the baby.
- Only three of the infants (including the twins) in the study did not have antibodies at birth. Their two mothers received their first COVID shot less than three weeks before giving birth.
- Mothers who received a second dose of the two-dose vaccines before delivery were more likely to transfer COVID-19 antibodies to their baby.
There are a number of issues that require further study, however.
Because COVID-19 vaccines only became available late last year, it's not known if vaccinating women even earlier in their pregnancies would result in greater transfer of antibodies to their babies, but Miller believes it will.
She also said it's too early to tell how well or how long the antibodies transferred from mothers to babies will protect babies after delivery.
It's also unclear how pregnancy complications could affect the transfer of antibodies from vaccinated mothers to their babies.
"This is a really great way to passively protect your baby because, unfortunately, this virus isn't going away anytime soon," Miller said.
The study titled, "Cord Blood Antibodies following Maternal COVID-19 Vaccination During Pregnancy," is published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.