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Intermountain Healthcare answers questions on COVID-19 and pregnancy

Posted at 11:22 AM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 14:21:48-04

MURRAY, Utah — As researchers continue to study the effects of the COVID-19 vaccine on pregnant women, Intermountain Healthcare is answering questions on some of their findings.

Initial studies didn’t test the vaccine on any pregnant women, but doctors say tens of thousands of pregnant women have now received COVID-19 vaccinations, and they’re not seeing many complications.

Researchers say they’ve learned that pregnant women who contract COVID -19 may have more severe side effects.

“That’s not unusual because we know that with other viral infections. For example, just the regular flu. If you get that when you’re pregnant you can have a more severe course so it makes sense that COVID might have the same type of effect,” said Dr. Sean Esplin, Intermountain Healthcare’s senior medical director for women’s health.

On the plus side, the risk of getting COVID-19 while pregnant isn’t as concerning to the baby’s health as initially thought, and they’ve also found out that the vaccine doesn’t seem to have any harm on the mother or the baby.

“To this point, there are no concerns that we're seeing among pregnant women to say ‘Hey, there’s a higher risk of the vaccine during pregnancy,’ so that’s really reassuring,” Esplin said.

Some other good news: the antibodies from the vaccine will cross over from the mom through the placenta to the baby, protecting them from the virus – mothers can also pass antibodies to their babies through breast milk.

"Finding that these COVID antibodies are reaching the baby means that, if you want to be safe yourself during your pregnancy and you want to keep your baby as safe as possible with respect to COVID, get the vaccine and get it earlier. The earlier you get it in your pregnancy, the higher levels that will get to your baby,” Esplin said.

With this information, Dr. Esplin says there aren’t many downsides to getting the vaccine while pregnant.

"The safest thing to do is to get the vaccine, especially if you have risk factors,” Esplin said.

Researchers say they are continuing to track the effects of the vaccine on pregnant women to make sure no complications arise in the future.