Researchers have released the results of a new study from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that may indicate that pregnant women vaccinated against COVID-19 can pass antibodies to their newborn babies.
The study’s conclusion found that:
COVID-19 mRNA vaccines generated robust humoral immunity in pregnant and lactating women, with immunogenicity and reactogenicity comparable to those seen in non-pregnant women. Vaccine-induced immune responses were significantly greater than the response to natural infection. Immune transmission to neonates was via placenta and breast milk.
Dr. Andrea Edlow is a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and a co-author of the study.
“It seems like great news,” Edlow told NBC’s “TODAY” show. “This study is one piece of the puzzle that is essential in trying to provide pregnant and lactating women with evidence-based counseling around the vaccine.”
Dr. Iffath Hoskins is an obstetrician at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York and elected president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who said the findings are “very reassuring.” She noted that a pregnant woman’s immune system is tempered so that her body doesn’t reject a fetus, so people weren’t sure how well a vaccine would work for a pregnant woman.
“What this study shows us is that the mother has a strong response,” Hoskins said, although she was not involved in the most recent research. “Her body wakes up … and makes antibodies against the shot that just happened, the coronavirus vaccine.”
Edlow added that the research hasn’t been done to get answers about how safe the vaccine is in general.
The study was designed with “131 recipients of reproductive age vaccines (84 pregnant, 31 lactating and 16 non-pregnant)” at two different academic medical centers. The study showed that pregnant and lactating women “elicited similar vaccine-induced humoral immune responses” in non-pregnant subjects. It also found that pregnant and lactating women “generated higher antibody titers than those observed after SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy.”
While there isn’t much information about the long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccines and how they affect the general public, or specifically pregnant people, the experts told NBC News that COVID-19 is a known risk.
“There’s a really big bucket of ‘we don’t know,’” said Hoskins. “In my personal opinion there is a bigger bucket of ‘We know Covid is stupid and it’s really bad for everyone, including a pregnant woman.’ ”
“We can certainly tell them with complete certainty that it is very dangerous to get Covid during pregnancy,” said Edlow.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that “pregnant people are at an increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant people … In addition, pregnant people with COVID-19 may be at an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, compared to pregnant women without COVID-19. “
There are not yet comprehensive long-term safety studies of pregnant women receiving COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC notes that “there is currently limited data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant people,” and explains, “Clinical studies looking at safety and how well the COVID-19 vaccines work in pregnant people are ongoing or planned. Vaccine manufacturers are also monitoring data from humans in the clinical trials who have received a vaccine and became pregnant Animal studies using a Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech or Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J & J / Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine received before or during pregnancy, found no safety concerns. “
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