Rumours and myths are playing new tricks on pregnant women and immigrants
Over 250 babies are born every minute and more than 140 million babies are born yearly worldwide. Almost 375,000 were delivered in Canada in 2020. With the different variations of coronavirus and the pandemic still looming, questions about pregnant women’s health and the health of their babies have become a popular topic.
University of Michigan maternal and child health expert Miatta Buxton and other research scientists answer parents’ questions about how COVID-19 relates to pregnant women.
Can the coronavirus be spread from mother to child?
The good news is that the answer is No. There’s no conclusive evidence of vertical transmission of COVID-19 from mother to child. Vertical transmission occurs when a virus passes from mother to baby during the period either just before birth or just after birth.
Can the COVID-19 vaccine prevent women from getting pregnant?
This is a myth. There is no plausible reason or scientific mechanism for this vaccine to interact with a woman’s reproductive organs or have any interaction with an egg that’s been released or fertilized.
The myth is based on a false assumption that the vaccine could cause the body to attack syncytin-1, a protein in the placenta that shares a small piece of genetic code with the spike protein of the coronavirus.
Can the coronavirus be passed through breast milk?
Pregnant women and new mothers would be relieved to get another No to this. There’s also no evidence of transmission of the virus through breast milk. But mothers need to be mindful that there is a potential for direct transmission from mother to child through other means after birth if a mother is diagnosed with COVID-19.
Is the coronavirus more dangerous for women who are pregnant?
Although data are limited and much remains unknown about the full extent of the impact of COVID-19 during pregnancy, recent information released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that pregnant women are at greater risk of severe outcomes such as hospitalization and admission to intensive care units, and require mechanical ventilation if they contract the coronavirus, compared to non-pregnant women.
But the good news is that the risk of death between pregnant and non-pregnant women does not appear to be different according to available data.
Is it safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy?
Immigrants tend to ask this question quite often. Evidence shows that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends pregnant women get the complete doses of the vaccine.
As earlier stated, pregnant people are at increased risk for severe outcomes of COVID-19. So, it makes sense for them to be the first to get the shot.
Do pregnant women suffer more severe side effects from the Covid-19 vaccines?
Not at all. In general, pregnant individuals have the same antibody response to a vaccine as non-pregnant individuals. This means they can generate the same number of protective antibodies after being vaccinated
There is an initial period of inflammation after being vaccinated, as the immune system responds to a foreign substance. There could be cases of fatigue, headache and occasionally low-grade fever that can follow any vaccination. Pregnant women generally have a slightly decreased inflammatory response and, therefore, often report fewer side effects. That’s a pleasant surprise.
Should women get the vaccine early or later in their pregnancy?
The sooner a pregnant woman gets a COVID-19 vaccine, the more likely she will transfer protective antibodies to her baby. Studies have also confirmed that women had a robust immune response after vaccination, suggesting that the vaccines protect pregnant women adequately from COVID-19.
What else is kicking?
Pregnant women are already experiencing enough kicks inside. (Happy kicks). They don’t need any more rumours and myths kicking in.