Ground Report | New Delhi: COVID-19 risks in late pregnancy; Women who become infected with COVID -19 towards the end of pregnancy are more vulnerable to complications related to childbirth, according to a study, which highlights that the majority occur among the unvaccinated.
An investigation published by Nature Medicine analyzed the data of all pregnant women in Scotland, including more than 87,000 who were between the start of vaccination, in December 2020, and last October.
The team led by the University of Edinburgh points out that women with COVID-19 towards the end of pregnancy are more likely to suffer complications, compared to those who become ill in the early stages of pregnancy or have not passed it.
Premature births and stillbirths or babies who die shortly after birth are more common among women who become ill 28 days or less before their due date. The “majority of complications,” which also include intensive care admissions related to COVID-19, occurred in unvaccinated women, according to the study.
Experts said it’s not possible to say whether COVID-19 directly contributed to the deaths or premature births since they didn’t have access to each woman’s detailed medical records.
The main author of the research, Sarah Stock, from the University of Edinburgh, indicated in a virtual press conference that, since the beginning of the vaccination program, 77% of cases of COVID-19 in pregnant women corresponded to unvaccinated women and hospitalizations and ICU admissions were “substantially more common” in this group.
In contrast, it highlighted that only 3% of hospital admissions and 1% in intensive care units were of fully vaccinated women.
About 12% of COVID-19 cases occurred in pregnant women who had received only one dose of the vaccine or who were diagnosed with the disease less than 14 days after the second dose.
The key message is that “vaccination is the safest and most effective way for mothers to protect themselves and their babies from infection,” said Aziz Sheikh, also an author of the study.
The team analyzed data on extended perinatal deaths, that is, the death of a baby in the womb after 24 weeks of pregnancy or in the first 28 days after birth.
This mortality rate among babies born within 28 days of developing COVID-19 by their mothers was 23 per 1,000 births. All infant deaths were in women who were not vaccinated at the time of infection, the study says. (COVID-19 risks in late pregnancy)
Furthermore, about 17% of babies born within 28 days of infection were born prematurely, more than three weeks before their due date.
Some 32% of pregnant women who gave birth in Scotland last October were fully vaccinated (more than 14 days had passed since the second dose), compared to 77% of the general female population aged 18-44. The stock added that the data from this research “adds to the evidence that vaccination in pregnancy does not increase the risk of pregnancy complications, but COVID-19 does” does.
ALOS READ: The ‘Gates of hell’ may close after 50 years