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COVID-19 vaccines do not damage the placenta or cause infertility

17 May 2021
Appeared in BioNews 1095

The COVID-19 coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) vaccine does not cause damage to the placenta, a study has confirmed.

A team from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, Illinois, conducted a study to assess any potential adverse effects on the placenta, the organ that provides the fetus with oxygen and nutrients during pregnancy, when the COVID-19 vaccine is administered during pregnancy. The study found there to be no effect on the placenta.

'The internet has amplified a concern that the vaccine might trigger an immunological response that causes the mother to reject the fetus,' Dr Jeffery Goldstein, co-author of the study, told CNN: 'These findings lead us to believe that doesn't happen… the COVID vaccine does not damage the placenta'.

The team conducted an experiment assessing unvaccinated and vaccinated pregnant women in a Chicago-based hospital. They checked the placentas from 84 women who had received COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy, and 116 women who had not been vaccinated and had not tested positive for COVID-19.

The study, published in Obstetrics & Gynaecology, shadowed misinformation circulating on the internet regarding the risks of the COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy. It had been previously reported that abnormal blood flow occurred in pregnant patients who had tested positive for COVID-19.

According to Dr Goldstein, if something problematic occurs during pregnancy, you can generally observe these changes in the placenta. Despite these claims, the authors saw no placental lesions or malformations in the women who had received the vaccine in comparison to those who did not. They also observed no increased incidence of blood flow issues to the fetus.

'Our team hopes these data, albeit preliminary, can reduce concerns about the risk of the vaccine to the pregnancy', added Dr Emily Miller, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Northwestern University, and co-author of the study.

Although the study is limited by population differences between vaccinated and unvaccinated women, these findings add to the growing literature in support of the safety of the COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy.

In fact, there is an increasing amount of literature covering the potential risks of not having received the COVID-19 vaccination prior-to or during pregnancy. According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention the risks of COVID-19 for pregnant women include serious infections and an increased risk of preterm delivery for their babies.

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