What do we know about the long-term effects of Covid-19 vaccines in pregnancy?

10 September 2021

We’ve been asked on WhatsApp for information regarding the Covid-19 vaccines in use in the UK and whether there are any long-term effects on babies born to women who were vaccinated in pregnancy.

What do we know about any long-term effects?

Given that the vaccines have recently come into use, there simply isn’t any long-term (meaning over a number of years) follow-up data on babies born to pregnant mothers who were vaccinated against Covid-19. 

Pregnant women were excluded from the initial large-scale vaccine trials (although there were 57 accidental pregnancies during them). 

There have been studies of different data sets from women who were vaccinated in pregnancy with the aim of identifying any problems in pregnancy and after birth, and comparing this against the baseline rate of problems in the pregnant population, or against women who did not receive the vaccine. One study also compared against women who had a Covid-19 infection during pregnancy. 

From these, no significant safety concerns have arisen regarding maternal or neonatal outcomes (things like risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, stillbirth, small for stage of development babies, or congenital abnormalities).

Dr Victoria Male, reproductive immunology lecturer at Imperial College London, told Full Fact that “babies that have been born so far are being born looking happy, healthy and normal”. She also explained that data from other vaccines that are given in pregnancy such as flu and whooping cough do not show “bad long-term effects”. She added that “we have no reason to expect that these vaccines will be any different”. 

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has also said that the Covid-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that are known to be harmful to pregnant women or to a developing baby.

To date, 157,000 women in America who reported they were pregnant have been vaccinated, and over 60,000 women in England who reported that they were pregnant or could be pregnant at the time of vaccination have received at least one dose of vaccine. 

Data has been collected on pregnant women receiving the vaccine in February and March for a study by UKOSS and UKTIS. This team is currently gathering data on outcomes as people involved reach the end of their pregnancies and this data will be published as soon as it is available.

The information included in this article contains the latest evidence and official guidance available at the time it was written. This is not a substitute for medical advice. If you require specific medical advice please consult your GP or midwife.

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