A mother holds her newborn baby in her arms
Photo: Guido Mieth / Getty Images
Expectant parents usually have a lot of worries.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the fear of infection of the pregnant woman with Sars-CoV-2 has also arisen.
How bad can it get?
And what effects can an infection have on the child?
Can pregnant women get vaccinated?
The important thing is: there is no need to panic.
Experts rate the absolute risk of a severe Covid 19 course in pregnant women as low,
although it is higher than other women of the same age.
Nevertheless, data suggest that a corona infection, even if it is mild, increases the risk of complications during pregnancy, such as premature birth or preeclampsia, better known to many as pregnancy poisoning.
Based on this data, the German specialist societies had already spoken in May in favor of vaccinating pregnant women against Covid after a consultation, if they so wish.
The benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks
However, the German Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) has only recently been promoting vaccination of expectant mothers against the coronavirus from the second trimester of pregnancy. After the commission had evaluated data on the course of Covid-19 infections in pregnant women and the safety of the vaccinations, the panel decided to recommend the vaccination to all pregnant women. Previously, the Stiko had only spoken out in favor of vaccinating pregnant women under certain circumstances and after consulting a doctor, for example if they were particularly at risk from previous illnesses. Pregnant women therefore often found it difficult to get a vaccination, even if they wanted to be vaccinated.
Even if the data on the possible risks of vaccination during pregnancy are still sparse, experts say that there is no evidence of undesirable serious complications.
The available data suggest that the benefit of vaccination for pregnant women outweighs the risk.
But what about the child?
So far there is no evidence that vaccination harms the unborn child.
On the contrary: Experts assume that pregnant women pass on antibodies to the baby after a Covid 19 vaccination.
A new study now provides further evidence that the newborn also benefits from vaccinating the mother against Covid-19. Scientists at New York University Langone Health tested the umbilical cord blood of a total of 36 vaccinated women for the presence of antibodies after giving birth. All samples had a high antibody titer, so there were many antibodies in the blood, as the researchers write in a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The immune system produces antibodies either in response to infection or after vaccination.
The scientists around the specialist in infectious diseases at NYU Langone, Jennifer L. Lighter, also examined the blood of some participants for special antibodies that are only formed after infection.
These results were all negative, so none of the women had had a corona infection and the measured antibody titers were due to the vaccination.
Antibodies can protect in the first months of life
The study participants were between 26 and 46 years old.
All but one of the participants had received two syringes of an mRNA vaccine prior to delivery.
Most (30 women) had their first vaccination in the second trimester of pregnancy, between the fourth and seventh months.
There were around 6 to 25 weeks between the second and last vaccination dose and the birth of the children.
According to the scientists, the fact that the umbilical cord blood of all children had a high antibody titer shows that the mothers pass on the antibodies obtained from the vaccination to their children.
Even if such a transmission of antibodies from other vaccinations is known, the study results underline the importance of pregnant women receiving a vaccination, Lighter said, according to a statement from the university.
"If babies could be born with antibodies, then that could protect them in their first months of life, when they are particularly vulnerable," says Ashley S. Roman, gynecologist and professor at NYU Langone and also author of the study.
Severe Covid courses in newborns are rare
However, experts estimate the risk of corona infection for newborns as low, even though there are known cases in which mothers have transmitted the virus to their children.
"Very severe Covid courses in newborns are very rare," said recently Mario Rüdiger, board member of the German Society for Perinatal Medicine (DGPM).
It is still unclear how effective the infant's antibodies are and how long their potential protection lasts.
The scientists also point out that more research is needed into whether the timing of vaccination during pregnancy has an impact on the amount of antibodies.