A mistaken response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request has been widely shared on Facebook and Twitter.
The response contained maternity data for 2018 to 2022 from NHS Lanarkshire in Scotland. It originally said that the number of early pregnancy losses recorded in 2022 had roughly doubled from its previous levels to 2,065. This was shared on social media by some people who appeared to suggest that the supposed rise might be associated with the Covid-19 vaccines.
In fact, there had been an error in the calculation of NHS Lanarkshire’s figure for 2022. The correct figure was 982, which represented a slight fall in the number of early pregnancy losses in 2022.
The author of least one post on Facebook followed his post with a link to a blog outlining the FoI release in a comment. This blog was subsequently updated with news of the correction.
While the FoI response was unable to provide data on vaccination status relating to the figures, data on pregnancy outcomes for women vaccinated against Covid have been studied in both Scotland and England.
Summarising Scotland’s data in September 2022, Public Health Scotland said: “In line with what is known from the international research evidence, the preliminary data presented above shows no increased risk of perinatal mortality or preterm birth following Covid-19 vaccination in pregnancy.”
Describing the English data, the UK Health Security Agency said in March 2023: “Women who had received at least one dose of the vaccine in pregnancy were more likely to deliver live born babies at term without low birthweight and had no overall increased risk of any adverse outcome through January 2021 to November 2022 and [...] their rate of stillbirth, and the proportion of women giving birth to low birthweight and/or premature babies was lower than that observed in women who were not vaccinated during pregnancy.”
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists also strongly recommends Covid-19 vaccination for women who are planning to get pregnant. It says: “Getting vaccinated before pregnancy will help prevent COVID-19 infection and its serious consequences. Women who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination.”
We have seen many examples of misinformation about the Covid and other vaccines, often suggesting that they could harm people’s reproductive health. Misinformation like this could itself harm people’s health by distorting their understanding of what the risks and benefits of vaccination really are.
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