Contrary to misleading reports spread on social media, a new study finds the COVID-19 vaccine does no damage to the placenta in pregnancy.
In a study of placentas from patients who were vaccinated for COVID-19 during pregnancy, researchers found no evidence of any harm.
"The placenta is like the black box in an airplane. If something goes wrong with a pregnancy, we usually see changes in the placenta that can help us figure out what happened," said lead researcher Dr. Jeffery Goldstein. He is an assistant professor of pathology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago.
"From what we can tell, the COVID vaccine does not damage the placenta," Goldstein said in a Northwestern news release.
At the same time, said researcher Dr. Emily Miller, a Northwestern Medicine maternal fetal medicine physician, "We have reached a stage in vaccine distribution where we are seeing vaccine hesitancy, and this hesitancy is pronounced for pregnant people. Our team hopes these data, albeit preliminary, can reduce concerns about the risk of the vaccine to the pregnancy."
For the study, the researchers collected placentas from 84 vaccinated women and 116 unvaccinated women. Most of the women received either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine during their third trimester.
Last May, these researchers reported that the placentas of women infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy had evidence of injury causing abnormal blood flow between mother and baby.
"We are beginning to move to a framework of protecting fetuses through vaccination, rather than from vaccination," Miller said.
In another study published in April, the team showed that pregnant women make COVID-19 antibodies after vaccination and transfer them to their fetuses.
"Until infants can get vaccinated, the only way for them to get COVID antibodies is from their mother," Goldstein said.
"The internet has amplified a concern that the vaccine might trigger an immunological response that causes the mother to reject the fetus," Goldstein said. "But these findings lead us to believe that doesn't happen."
The report was published May 11 in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.
For more on COVID-19 vaccines, head to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCE: Northwestern University, news release, May 11, 2021