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January 20, 2022

COVID-19 vaccination does not increase the risk of preterm birth

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Vaccination during pregnancy recommended. (file pic)

Study findings support the safety of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy.

A study of more than 40,000 pregnant individuals has found that COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy is not linked with a higher risk of preterm or small-for-gestational-age (SGA) births.

The study – reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US – also found that the trimester when the vaccination was received, and number of doses received, did not increase these risks.

These findings support the safety of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, which prevents severe illness in pregnant women, who have an increased risk of severe disease and death compared with the non-pregnant. They are also more likely to require admission to the intensive care unit, invasive ventilation, and machine-assisted blood oxygenation.

Research into reasons behind low vaccine acceptance among pregnant women have found that the most common concerns involve a lack of information about vaccine safety and potential harm to the fetus. But according to lead author Heather Lipkind, an associate professor at the Yale School of Medicine, the results of this study address both concerns.

The most common concerns for not getting vaccinated during pregnancy involve a lack of information about vaccine safety and potential harm to the fetus. Photo Shutterstock

Researchers used data from eight different health care organisations participating in the Vaccine Safety Datalink Project – a project established by the CDC to monitor vaccine safety – in a retrospective cohort study of vaccinated and unvaccinated pregnant women aged 16–49 years.

Nearly 22 per cent of those reviewed received at least one vaccine dose during pregnancy, the vast majority during their second or third trimester. Almost 96 per cent of the vaccinated received an mRNA vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.

Researchers investigated the risk of preterm birth (babies delivered earlier than 37 weeks) and SGA (babies delivered smaller in size than normal for gestational age), which have both been associated with a higher risk for infant death or disability. There was no link found with vaccination status, dose number, or vaccination by trimester for the first (or only) vaccine dose.

These findings are a crucial addition to the few reports which have described outcomes of live births after COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy.

The authors note that further evaluation of risk associated with vaccination in the first trimester is needed in future studies. Less than two per cent of first-trimester vaccinations were observed in this study, due to the timing of vaccine availability and of births. Research is also needed for more recent pregnancies in women who have received a booster vaccine dose during pregnancy.


This article was originally published on Cosmos Magazine and was written by Imma Perfetto. Imma Perfetto is a science writer at Cosmos. She has a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Science Communication from the University of Adelaide.

Published by The Echo in conjunction with Cosmos Magazine.


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4 COMMENTS

  1. This study came out months ago, and is being conveniently ignored by those in the “freedom of choice” camp – my pregnant partner has been variously told that the vaccine would cause pre-term birth, or result in developmental issues in the baby. All of these claims are, at best, spurious, and at worst, cruel lies told to scare her out of making an informed decision. Often, the sources used to support these claims come from, or are re-posted and echoed by, some of the most mean-spirited voices on the far-right. It beggars belief that these people we thought were friends, and shared our progressive views, are now seemingly comfortable being in the same camp as those same people who we would rail against around issues like the environment or social justice.

    Thankfully, my partner arrived at the difficult decision to vaccinate on her own, and has had zero reaction, and all signs point to a healthy and robust child. Indeed, her reading of credible sources suggested that vaccinating in the third trimester posed negligible risk to the child, and might actually provide an increased immunity upon delivery. However, vaccinated or otherwise, there is still such a high level of covid in community at present, that there is simply no safe way to participate in any activities, or see our friends, until sometime after the baby is born, or we have some certainty that case numbers are at a manageable level. If only all of our peers behaved the same, then this current wave might not be so crushing. Just remember: the pandemic isn’t over, just because you’re over it!

    • Thanks for this perspective Joe. While some “friends” may indeed be well meaning, I totally agree that it is irresponsible and indeed abject cruelty for the totally unqualified to risk imparting dangerous information to people faced with confronting decisions at a vulnerable time. Does it never occur to them that they may not know anything about it? Or more importantly, that there may be some truth in the warnings given by the scientific community about the dangers to mother and baby of contracting Covid in pregnancy?

      Just like parents making the decision now about vaccination for their 5-12s, no-one is assisted by the onslaught of dubiously sourced, fiercely held “truths” of those with all the missionary zeal of the newly converted.

  2. Feel confident Joe that you and your partner made the correct decision.
    ALL peer reviewed research studies suggest that vaccination during pregnancy is THE most sensible and safe way to protect both the mother and baby from Covid 19.
    The vaccine is broken down in the Lymphatic system within a couple of weeks of the vaccination, but the effects last longer thankfully.
    Sorry to hear you ‘ve had such a trying time during what is supposed to be a unique and very special life experience.
    BTW we are looking forward to vaccinating our 7 yo ( born this time 7 years ago), in three weeks time and have no doubts about the process or the occurence of adverse reactions.
    It was so good to see the latest CDC research data (6th Jan 2022) that shows that in the 5- 11 yo group there were TWELVE adverse reactions to mRNA vaccination for 8 million doses given. We can all rest easy that mRNA vaccines are safe for our children.
    Safe birthing and parenting.

  3. What a wonderful read and with positive comments. Good to see no hysterical comments from the deniers and liars so prevalent when articles like this are published. What a relief!

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