COVID Vaccine During Pregnancy Improves Neonatal Outcomes

February 21, 2024

An international study of COVID-19 in pregnancy, which included Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, found that neonates of booster-vaccinated mothers had less risk of being infected with COVID-19 compared to those of unvaccinated mothers. Babies of booster-vaccinated mothers also had the lowest rates of preterm birth, respiratory distress syndrome and days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Neonates of unvaccinated mothers, however, died twice as frequently as those of vaccinated mothers. The study was conducted when Omicron was the variant of concern. Findings were published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“Our study demonstrates the clear benefits of COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women and their infants,” said co-author Jagjit Teji, MD, neonatologist and site Principal Investigator at Lurie Children’s, and Health System Clinician of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “As the protective effect of COVID-19 vaccination decreases with time, to ensure that newborns are maximally protected against COVID-19, women should receive a vaccine or booster dose no more than 14 weeks before the expected date of delivery.”  

The study involved 40 hospitals in 18 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, France, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Pakistan, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, Uruguay and the USA). Lurie Children’s study participants were recruited from Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital’s Maternal, Newborn and Intermediate Care Nursery areas, where Lurie Children’s neonatologists provide coverage.

“Our study also showed that babies of diagnosed mothers did not have an increased risk of being infected with practices such as skin-to-skin contact and direct breastfeeding,” said Dr. Teji. “Also, none of the neonates of vaccinated mothers had a congenital malformation. Overall, our findings should be reassuring to pregnant women who may be hesitant about COVID-19 vaccination.”

Research at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is conducted through Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute, which is focused on improving child health, transforming pediatric medicine and ensuring healthier futures through the relentless pursuit of knowledge. Lurie Children’s is a nonprofit organization committed to providing access to exceptional care for every child. It is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. Lurie Children’s is the pediatric training ground for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.