Study finds mRNA COVID vaccine safe during first trimester of pregnancy

A recent study conducted by Elyse Kharbanda, MD, MPH, and colleagues at the HealthPartners Institute in Bloomington, Minnesota, has found that receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during the first trimester of pregnancy does not increase the risk of major structural birth defects. This retrospective cohort study analyzed data from multiple Vaccine Safety Datalink sites and compared outcomes between pregnant women who received the vaccine in their first trimester and those who did not.

The study revealed that there was no significant difference in the prevalence of major structural birth defects between infants born to mothers who received a first-trimester vaccination and those who did not. Additionally, when birth defects were grouped by organ system, there were no significant differences between the two groups.

The authors of the study emphasized that these findings should provide reassurance to pregnant individuals and their obstetric care practitioners. The study adds to the growing body of research supporting the safety of COVID vaccination for pregnant women and their babies. It also aligns with recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which suggests that pregnant individuals should get vaccinated against COVID during any trimester.

Pamela Berens, MD, an ob/gyn at the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, expressed her satisfaction with the study results, noting that it further demonstrates the safety of mRNA COVID vaccines for pregnant patients. The study also indicated that the vaccine is safe for infant brain development and reduces the risk of adverse neonatal outcomes.

Despite the promising results of the study, the authors acknowledged several limitations. Data were only available for pregnancies that ended in live birth, which may have excluded more severe birth defects resulting in stillbirth. Additionally, the study only analyzed mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and did not have information on folic acid use, which could be a confounding factor in birth defect outcomes.

The study provides valuable insights into the safety of mRNA COVID vaccines for pregnant women, particularly when administered during the first trimester. The findings should help alleviate concerns about the potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy and encourage pregnant individuals to consider getting vaccinated to protect themselves and their babies from COVID-19. Further research is needed to continue exploring the impact of COVID vaccination on pregnancy outcomes and birth defects.


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