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COVID-19 vaccines do not increase risk for preterm birth, study finds

Experts say the vaccines are safe for pregnant women

Pregnant woman receiving COVID-19 vaccine
Photo (c) Emilija Manevska - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from Yale University explored the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women. According to their findings, the vaccines were not linked with a higher risk of preterm birth, regardless of when in the pregnancy women received the vaccination. 

“COVID-19 vaccines are recommended during pregnancy to prevent severe maternal morbidity and adverse birth outcomes; however, vaccination coverage among pregnant women has been low,” the researchers wrote. “The findings from this retrospective, multisite cohort of a large and diverse population with comprehensive data on vaccination, comorbidities, and birth outcomes add to the evidence supporting the safety of the COVID-19 during pregnancy.” 

Preterm birth isn’t likely to be a risk

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from more than 40,000 pregnant women receiving care at eight health organizations participating in the Vaccine Safety Datalink. In addition to tracking the women’s vaccination status, the team paid close attention to two primary health care outcomes: preterm birth and low birth weight. 

Ultimately, around 22% of the women had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant. The majority received the shot during their second or third trimesters. 

In terms of pregnancy-related risks, the researchers learned that both vaccinated and unvaccinated women had similar outcomes when it came to preterm birth and low birth weight. The vaccine wasn’t associated with a greater chance of either risk. This was true regardless of when in pregnancy the women were vaccinated or how many doses of the vaccine they received. 

The researchers hope these findings help make pregnant women more comfortable with the idea of getting the COVID-19 vaccine, as it has been found to be safe for the health of both women and their babies. 

“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is important for preventing severe illness in pregnant people,” said researcher Heather Lipkind. “With the increasing rates of COVID-19 in our community, we are encouraging pregnant people to get vaccinated.” 

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