The number of pregnant women vaccinated in the face of an exacerbation of the coronavirus is steadily increasing, but health experts say a slight improvement is not enough because those expecting to become seriously ill or die from COVID-19.
The new concern came after a major study published in Nature Medicine on Thursday found that unvaccinated pregnant women and their babies could be exposed to the worst effects of the virus.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute analyzed data collected during COVID-19 pregnancy in Scotland, a national cohort of women who became pregnant on or after March 1, 2020. The database tracked about 145,000 pregnancies out of 130,000. women from March 2020 to October 2021.
The study found that 98 percent of pregnant women admitted to serious medical care were not vaccinated. Researchers have reported more than 450 perinatal deaths if the baby dies in the womb or during the neonatal period. all related to unvaccinated pregnant women.
“The main message we want to convey at home is that the best way to protect mother and child is to be vaccinated at the earliest opportunity, and this can be done at any stage of pregnancy,” said Aziz Sheikh, co-author of the study. and a professor at the University of Edinburgh, said at a press briefing on Thursday.
The perinatal mortality rate of women born during the study period was higher than the pandemic background, at 22.6 per 1,000 live births, 5.6.
The study also found that 77 percent of the nearly 5,000 COVID-19 infections among pregnant women occurred when they were not vaccinated. Health experts predict that this figure may be higher, as some of the vaccinated pregnant women in need of medical care may have been hospitalized for reasons other than COVID-19, but tested positive when admitted. past
Although the infection was evenly distributed during pregnancy, the researchers noted that hospitalization and hospitalization for serious medical care were more common in late pregnancy. Only 6.7% of COVID-related hospitalizations occurred in the first trimester; More than 33% occurred in the third trimester.
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“Overall, we’re seeing similar trends, but our number of infections (in the U.S.) is much higher than in Scotland, so we’ve seen more maternal deaths,” said Dr. Catherine Gray, obstetrician and gynecologist. the treating physician of the department. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
While Scotland reported the death of a single mother during the entire study period, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 259 pregnant women had died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
Vaccinations among pregnant women in the U.S. rose slightly from 40 percent on Dec. 11 to 41.5 percent in the new year, the agency said. At the same time, women make up more than 52% of the total vaccinated population in the United States.
Lack of data at the beginning of the pandemic may have made pregnant people hesitant to get the vaccine, Gray said. But she said there is now enough data to prove that the COVID-19 vaccine is not only safe, but also very effective in preventing serious illness and death during pregnancy.
“When the vaccine first appeared, we knew very little about it, and it was very reasonable to be skeptical about it because we didn’t even learn it in pregnant people,” Gray said. “But now thousands and thousands of people have been vaccinated and we see that it is safe and effective and protects both mother and baby from adverse effects.”
Studies have shown that antibodies that pass through the placenta can protect babies for up to three months after birth, she said.
Health experts are urging pregnant women to be vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves and their babies. As cases from the fast-moving omicron variant continue to increase, Gray argues that exposure to the virus is a matter of “when” rather than “if”.
“During a pandemic, you don’t decide between vaccinations or anything,” he said. “You decide between being a COVID or a vaccine.”
Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.
Health and patient safety coverage is partly funded by a grant from the Masimo Health Ethics, Innovation and Competition Foundation. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial information.
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