CATCHING Covid while pregnant could double the risk of a stillbirth, a study has found.
Researchers looked at more than 342,000 women in England to make the link.
🔵 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates
They said that, on the back of their findings, women should get the vaccine when offered it.
Mums-to-be are now eligible to get the jab if they decide to, once invited based on their age.
The research looked at mum’s who gave birth during the Covid pandemic between May 2020 and January 2021.
Some 3,500 (one per cent) had a positive coronavirus test when they were admitted to give birth.
Women who had Covid were more likely to be younger, of an ethnic minority group, with underlying health conditions or living in a deprived area.
Stillbirth – the death of an unborn baby after 24 weeks pregnancy – was twice as high in mums who had Covid.
There were 8.5 stillbirths per 100,000 babies compared with the 3.4 per 100,000 babies of mums without coronavirus.
Preterm birth – when a baby is delivered before 37 weeks – was also twice as likely; 12.1 per cent compared with 5.8 per cent.
Emergency C-section and a longer hospital stay after birth were both 60 per cent higher in the Covid group.
Babies were 24 per cent more likely to need specialist care after being born to an infected mother.
But when researchers only looked at babies who were born at full pregnancy (more than 37 weeks), there were no differences.
The researchers, led by the National Maternity and Perinatal Audit, wrote that “SARS-CoV-2 infection increases the risk of fetal death”.
It is not clear how this happens, but possibly because the virus passes through the placenta or simply because of the stress the mum’s body is under.
Previous research has also shown nearly one in five women with symptomatic Covid gave birth prematurely – but there was not a higher risk in those with asymptimics disease.
The paper in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology said: “Pregnant women should be counseled regarding risks of SARS-COV-2 infection and should be considered a priority for vaccination.”
The JCVI – the expert panel deciding on use of vaccines in the UK – have not listed pregnant women as a priority.
When the vaccine programme began in December 2020, there was not enough information about the safety in mums-to-be.
The JCVI said on April 16 that pregnant women should be offered a jab with the rest of women their age.
It added that, although uncommon, severe illness due to Covid is more likely in later pregnancy.
Pregnant women have been able to book through the NHS booking service from May 13, as long as they are old enough to fit the current eligibility.
They can speak to their GP practice or maternity service if they have any questions about the coronavirus vaccine or can talk to a healthcare professional at their appointment.
JCVI says it is “preferable” for pregnant women in the UK to be offered the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines because no safety concerns have been raised about the two jabs.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is not deemed “harmful”, but there is not as much safety information on it at this stage.
Source: Read Full Article