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  • Research has shown that pregnant people have a greater risk of developing severe illness and complications from COVID-19, compared with nonpregnant people.
  • A new study found another benefit of getting vaccinated: Newborns are born with a high level of antibodies.
  • Experts are urging pregnant people to get vaccinated to safeguard their health amid the spread of the Delta variant.

Since the vaccines became available in December 2020, physicians have strongly encouraged pregnant people to get immunized against COVID-19 to protect not only themselves, but their newborns as well.

Research has shown that pregnant people have a greater risk of developing severe illness and complications from COVID-19, compared with nonpregnant people.

Pregnant people who are unvaccinated are also more likely to experience pre-term birth and have worse birth outcomes, compared with pregnant people who have been vaccinated.

A new study from researchers at New York University (NYU) found another benefit of getting vaccinated: Newborns whose mothers had received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine had high levels of antibodies.

The findings come just as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) voted for pregnant people to be eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot.

The number of pregnant people with COVID-19 has increased in recent weeks, due to low vaccination rates among pregnant people and increased spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

“The best news is when a pregnant woman gets vaccinated, the newborn has protective antibodies against COVID. Getting the COVID vaccine is a win-win for mother and baby,” Dr. Sheryl Ross, an OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, told Healthline.

The new report from NYU measured antibody levels in 36 newborns whose mothers had received one of the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines.

The researchers found that all of the newborns had high levels of antibodies.

Babies born to mothers who had been vaccinated within 13 weeks of delivery had higher levels of antibodies, compared with newborns whose mothers received the shots more than 20 weeks before giving birth.

“Immunity will be passed to the fetus through the umbilical cord,” said Dr. Daniel Roshan, a high-risk maternal-fetal OB-GYN based in New York City.

According to the researchers, more data is needed to understand how protected the babies were and how timing the shots could affect the level of immunity passed to newborns.

The researchers concluded that the findings add to the growing list of reasons for pregnant people to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Pregnant women face an increased risk of complications from COVID-19, compared with the general population.

“Since pregnancy decreases the immune state, it is recommended to receive the vaccine at any trimester,” Roshan said.

Studies have found that pregnant women with a SARS-CoV-2 infection have a greater risk of hospitalization, intubation, preeclampsia, preterm birth, and maternal death.

In recent weeks, as the highly contagious Delta variant has circulated, more pregnant people have developed COVID-19, according to the CDC.

Vaccination rates among pregnant people remain relatively low.

Given pregnant people’s increased risk for severe illness and complications, the CDC is urging them to get vaccinated.

“These are preventable complications by getting the COVID vaccine during pregnancy,” Ross said.

Evidence suggests that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are just as safe and effective in pregnant people as they are in nonpregnant people.

The shots are not associated with any dangerous complications like miscarriage or infertility as some people falsely believe, Ross said.

A new study has found that newborns whose mothers had received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine had high levels of antibodies, highlighting another benefit of vaccination in pregnant people. Pregnant people are at higher risk of developing severe illness or complications from COVID-19.

Given the increased spread of the Delta variant and higher rates of COVID-19 cases among pregnant people in recent weeks, health officials are urging pregnant people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.