The Covid vaccine does not raise the risk of stillbirth or other complications, a major study has concluded, as experts urged pregnant women to get the jab.
Data from more than 355,000 British women who gave birth between January and August this year show that the stillbirth rate was 3.35 per 1,000 for vaccinated women and 3.6 per 1,000 for those unvaccinated.
The proportion of babies born with low weight was also similar, with 5.28 per cent born to mothers who had been vaccinated compared to 5.36 per cent with unvaccinated mothers.
Experts from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) who carried out the research said that there had been no vaccinated pregnant women admitted to intensive care between February and September, but warned there had been deaths in unvaccinated pregnant women.
‘Pandemic has created fear and uncertainty for those thinking about pregnancy’
Of those pregnant women in hospital with symptomatic Covid, 98 per cent were unvaccinated, the UKHSA said.
Around one in five women who are hospitalised with the virus need to be delivered preterm to help them recover and one in five of their babies need care in the neonatal unit.
Professor Lucy Chappell, the department of health’s chief scientific adviser and honorary consultant obstetrician, said: “This pandemic has created a lot of fear and uncertainty for those who are thinking about pregnancy or expecting a baby, with Covid-19 being very dangerous for pregnant women in particular.
“It is therefore really important that they get their Covid-19 vaccine, which has now protected hundreds of thousands of pregnant women around the world.
“Today’s data are hugely reassuring and further shows the vaccines continue to be the best way pregnant women can keep themselves and their babies safe from this virus.”
‘Many of the most vulnerable women in our society unvaccinated’
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at UKHSA, said: “Every pregnant woman who has not yet been vaccinated should feel confident to go and get the jab. This will help to prevent the serious consequences of catching Covid-19 in pregnancy.
“This accumulating evidence will also allow midwives and other health professionals to provide better information to pregnant women and help to drive uptake higher.
“Our figures also highlight stark inequalities in uptake with many of the most vulnerable women in our society going unvaccinated. It is vital that women of all backgrounds accept the offer of their vaccine in order to protect themselves.”
The proportion of women who gave birth and were vaccinated during pregnancy has been steadily increasing since April 16, when the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advised all pregnant women should be offered two vaccine doses.