Did vaccination lower the number of early babies caused by COVID?
Did vaccination lower the number of early babies caused by COVID?

A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by two sociologists found that mothers in California who had COVID19 had a higher chance of giving birth before they were due. This was in the early stages of the pandemic. The risk went from 7.1% for mothers who were not infected with COVID19 to 8.3% for mothers who were. This is a difference of only 1.2%, but the authors say it is “roughly equivalent to in utero exposure to high-intensity wildfire smoke for 20 days.”

The study took an interesting turn when they looked at how vaccines were rolled out in California and split the state into five zones based on how many people had been vaccinated.

In places where vaccines were widely available, COVID’s effect on early babies seemed to go away quickly. In places where vaccines were not widely accepted, the difference lasted for almost another year.

In the end, the effect went away in January 2022, around the same time that Omicron arrived and most people became immune. The authors say that these findings show that vaccinations stopped a lot of babies from being born before they were due during the pandemic.

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Even though this is a good point, the subject of early birth is quite complex. The date of birth is affected by several things, such as how doctors have been working during the pandemic. A baby being born before it’s due may not always be a direct result of SARSCoV2 illness. Doctors who specialise in pregnancies think about a lot of things before deciding whether to start labour or do a C-section. On the other hand, if a pregnant woman has serious COVID, like from the delta variant, doctors may decide to deliver the baby as soon as possible to try to save her life. It’s considered preterm if that happens even one day before the 37th week, but it doesn’t have to be bad for the baby’s health.

Before the vaccine was made available, mothers in California’s wealthy places who had COVID19 had an unexpectedly high rate of preterm births (15.5%). The big 3.5% rise compared to areas with fewer vaccinations shows that doctors in areas with lots of vaccinations may have been extra careful about the health of mothers.

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Northwestern University Chicago did a study that showed there was no increase in preterm births during the pandemic. In fact, they found that among low-income groups, the number of preterm deaths went down. This is because, even though the economy was bad, government aid let these women stay at home, and telemedicine made it easier for them to get medical care. This did better for the health of mothers.

Experts in both obstetrics and neonatology agree that during the early, immune-naive stages of the pandemic, immunisations made it less likely for pregnant women to have serious COVID-19 results. However, it is not as clear what effect these immunisations had on babies born before they were due. In research, a correlation does not always mean a cause.

There may be other, unmeasured factors, possibly social ones, that account for the difference in the number of preterm births seen between areas with high vaccination rates and areas with lower vaccination rates.

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