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New study confirms higher risks in unvaccinated pregnant women

Virus Outbreak-Pregnant Women
Posted at 10:43 PM, Jan 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-14 22:43:23-05

Data from the Centers for Disease Control shows, as of Jan. 1, only about 40% of pregnant women have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

A new study out of Scotland is shining a much larger light on the benefits and safety of getting vaccinated while pregnant.  

More pregnant mothers are weighing whether to get the vaccine, especially with the surging omicron variant.

"I didn't want to get it and potentially harm my baby but looking back, that doesn't really make any sense because I obviously wouldn't have wanted to get COVID with the baby," Heaven Taylor-Wynn said. 

Doctors are trying to convince their pregnant patients to get the vaccine because they are seeing rough outcomes in some unvaccinated pregnant women and their babies. 

"I felt like there was a herd of elephants on my chest, and I couldn't breathe," Ashley Duque said.

"I've seen women they got really bad preeclampsia and a funny variant of preeclampsia called help syndrome that makes them very, very, very sick and requires urgent delivery," said Dr. Brad Holbrook, maternal fetal medicine specialist at Community Medical Center.

"I've seen women with stillbirths. I've seen babies die after they were born," she added.

The study out of Scotland confirms everything doctors like Holbrook have been saying,

The Scotland team studied all women who were pregnant or became pregnant from December 2020 through October 2021. 

"They looked at the entire population of the whole country and because they have a whole, you know, an integrated system," Dr. Holbrook said. "They have 130,000 women in this study that essentially showed the same things, which is that, that women who get COVID are potentially in for some problems. So women who get COVID are more likely to have a pre-term delivery, a stillbirth complication with baby or with their pregnancy, and that women who are vaccinated and then get sick with COVID are very likely to have a much more mild course, so it really just confirmed everything that we've seen."

Among unvaccinated women, the study found they made up 77.4% of COVID infections. They accounted for 90.9% of cases that required hospitalization or critical care, and all 450 fetal and newborn deaths associated with the virus. The rate of deaths in babies after 28 weeks was much higher in women who got COVID-19 within a month of giving birth.  

"The risk of getting infected is pretty high, and the risks involved in being vaccinated are almost nonexistent," said Dr. Alisa Kachikis, assistant professor of maternal fetal medicine at University of Washington.

"I do feel like when I can sit down and talk with them face-to-face about it, look, you know, I'm not representing a drug company," Dr. Holbook said. "I'm not representing the government. I'm just representing the science and what I've read and understand about this and my own experience and based on that and what I've seen, I've seen a lot of complications from COVID."

The highly-transmissible omicron variant brings new concerns, especially in places just starting to experience the surge, like Montana.

"We're gonna have this big bunch of pregnant women come in really sick with COVID and not just pregnant women, unpregnant people as well coming into the hospital, and the hospital is gonna be totally full and understaffed," Dr. Holbrook said. "It's gonna be a very difficult couple of weeks, I think."

This story was originally reported on Newsy.com.