By Sandee LaMotte, CNN
(CNN) – There is no biological basis behind social media claims that Covid-19 vaccines can harm the placenta, the organ that provides a growing baby with oxygen and nutrients during pregnancy .
“There is no theoretical reason to believe that these vaccines would be harmful,” said Dr Richard Beigi, who sits on the expert working group on immunization, infectious diseases and public health preparedness. ‘American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told CNN in a question-and-answer session on the topic.
âThere has never been a vaccine linked to infertility,â he said.
Yet this has not stopped the spread of misinformation that can raise concerns and lead to vaccine reluctance among pregnant women.
“We have reached a stage in vaccine distribution where we see hesitation about vaccines, and this hesitation is pronounced in pregnant women,” said Dr Emily Miller, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern Medicine, in a statement.
In a new study released Tuesday, Miller and his team at Northwestern confirmed that Covid-19 vaccines do not harm the placenta and harm pregnancy as a result.
“Our team is hopeful that these data, although preliminary, may reduce concerns about the vaccine’s risk for pregnancy,” added Miller, co-author of the study.
A “ black box ”
The study, published Tuesday in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, was the first to examine the impact of Covid-19 vaccines on the placenta, the authors said.
As the first organ to form during pregnancy, the placenta is essential for fetal development as it provides oxygen to fetal tissues during lung development and nourishment during the formation of the digestive tract. In addition, the placenta produces the necessary hormones and transmits antibodies at the end of pregnancy to protect the baby after birth.
âThe placenta is like the black box on an airplane. If something is wrong with a pregnancy, we usually see changes in the placenta that can help us understand what happened,â the co-author said. of the study, Dr. Jeffery Goldstein, assistant professor of pathology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in a statement.
Miller and Goldstein examined the placentas of 84 vaccinated and 116 unvaccinated women who gave birth in a Chicago hospital. In addition to looking for abnormalities, the team also looked for evidence of abnormal blood flow, which had been Previously reported in pregnant patients who have tested positive for Covid-19.
The authors found “no increased incidence” of blood circulation problems or placental lesions or malformations in women who received the vaccine compared to those who did not.
“The internet has amplified concerns that the vaccine may trigger an immunological response that causes the mother to reject the fetus,” Goldstein said in a statement.
âThese results lead us to believe that this does not happen,â Goldstein said. “From what we can tell, the COVID vaccine does not damage the placenta.”
Known risks of Covid-19
The risks of Covid-19 infection for pregnant women include serious reactions, even death, and an increased risk of preterm delivery for their babies, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A recent study of pregnant women diagnosed with Covid-19 in 18 different countries found that they were at higher risk of experiencing side effects such as preeclampsia, infections, admission to intensive care units of hospitals and death.
The risk of death of pregnant women with Covid-19 was 1.6%, which is 22 times higher than uninfected pregnant women, according to the study.
Babies born to mothers infected with the new coronavirus were also at somewhat higher risk of premature birth and low birth weight, according to the study.
The need to protect both the expectant mother and her unborn child from the consequences of Covid-19 has prompted major medical groups in the United States to consider vaccination.
“There really is no theoretical reason to believe that this will harm the mother or her unborn child, and we are very confident that it will bring tremendous benefits to both mother and baby,” said Beigi of ACOG.
Benefits for the baby too
A previous Miller and Goldstein study published in April found that pregnant women vaccinated against Covid-19 were successfully making and transferring antibodies to their growing babies.
In fact, women who were vaccinated early in their third trimester had a better chance of passing protective antibodies to their newborns than women who were vaccinated closer to their due date.
âWe are starting to move to a fetal protection framework through vaccination rather than vaccination,â Miller said.
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