New and expectant mothers receive reassuring new evidence of the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccination.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women who get the shot show a robust immune response similar to that of women who did not conceive or give birth, researchers reported Thursday.
The study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecologyfound the mothers too antibody were present in their cord blood and in their breast milk, suggesting that they pass immunity on to their babies.
The results are key for gynecologists and other health professionals who have “faced a complete lack of data” because pregnant and breastfeeding women have been excluded from initial vaccine studies, said Dr. Andrea Edlow, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and co-author of the study.
“It seems like good news,” Edlow told NBC’s “TODAY” show. “This study is one piece of the puzzle that is important in providing evidence-based advice on vaccine issues to pregnant and breastfeeding women.”
The study, which was conducted at two medical centers, included 131 women of childbearing age: 84 were pregnant, 31 were breastfeeding, and 16 were used as controls. All received both doses of the Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccine.
When the researchers then tested their blood, the vaccine-induced antibodies were the same in all three groups. Antibodies have also been found in cord blood and breast milk, suggesting that “the baby is protected; We just don’t know how long it will take, ”Edlow said.
The antibodies generated in response to the vaccine were much higher than in women who already had Covid-19, she noted.
Dr. Iffath Hoskins, a gynecologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York and president-elect of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said the results were “very comforting.”
A pregnant woman’s immune system is suppressed to keep her body from rejecting the fetus. Hence, there has been a debate about how effective a vaccine would be.
“This study shows us that the mother is showing a robust response,” said Hoskins, who was not involved in the new research. “Your body is waking up … and making antibodies against the product that just happened, which is the coronavirus vaccine.”
Is the Covid-19 vaccine safe?
The study was not intended to answer the question of the overall safety of the vaccine, Edlow noted.
Limited data are currently available on the safety of Covid-19 vaccines for pregnant women, although experts believe they are unlikely to pose a specific risk to expectant mothers Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted.
Animal testing did not reveal any safety concerns. The mRNA technology used by Pfizer and Moderna is new. However, the vaccine platform used by the Johnson & Johnson vaccination has been given to pregnant women, including a large-scale Ebola vaccination study, with no adverse effects.
Covid-19 vaccines should be offered to pregnant and breastfeeding women who can decide for themselves whether to receive the shot The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists provides advice. Covid-19 is more severe in pregnant women and carries an increased risk of hospitalizations and death.
Hoskins sees both pregnant women who don’t want the vaccine and those who can’t wait to get it. She tells patients that vaccination is the safest option, but notes that doctors are still unaware of the long-term effects.
“There’s a whole big bucket of ‘We don’t know’,” she said. ‘In my personal opinion there is a bigger bucket of’ we know Covid sucks and it’s really bad for everyone including a pregnant woman. “
“We can tell you with certainty that it can be very dangerous to get Covid while you are pregnant,” Edlow repeated.
Both experts recommended a Covid-19 vaccine – whether Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson version – for pregnant women seeking vaccinations, if they are eligible.
The new study only looked at vaccinations in the third trimester, with further research on the best time to shoot. Right now it makes sense to have the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to you, Edlow said.