Covid-19 vaccine and pregnancy: Addressing concerns
Health risks among pregnant women posed by Covid-19 have become a matter of concern as several expecting mothers died from the infection in Bangladesh in recent months.
Generally, pregnant women are immuno-compromised and more vulnerable to infections. Week 28 onwards up to delivery is considered a risk period in that regard.
Talking to The Daily Star, Prof Maruf Siddiqui, head of Department of Infertility and Reproductive Medicine at Anwer Khan Modern Medical College, said that studies show pregnant women with comorbid conditions like diabetes, hypertension is more at risk.
The Delta variant of Covid-19 can be fatal during pregnancy, he added.
"The best way to protect expecting mothers is to vaccinate them. Controlled studies around the world so far did not demonstrate any significant side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine on either the mother or the fetus," Prof Maruf said.
The Bangladesh government has recently decided to vaccinate pregnant women which is a very encouraging step, he said.
Prof Maruf suggests young couples not try to conceive at the moment or try to conceive after getting the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. If a woman becomes pregnant after receiving the first dose, she should take the second dose in due time.
Shamima Nargis, a consultant at Gynecology Department of Bangladesh Specialized Hospital, said there is no evidence that pregnant women, in general, become more unwell compared to other adults if they contract Covid-19.
Pregnant women over 35 and with a BMI of over 25, and those with preexisting medical problems are at higher risk of developing severe illnesses and may require hospitalisation, Shamima said.
She further said, "There is no evidence that Covid-19 infection increases the risk of miscarriage or can be passed on to the baby. Hence, there's no reason to panic."
Covid-19 vaccines are recommended at any stage of pregnancy and also for nursing mothers, she said.
Expecting mothers should have at least six anti-natal checkups with a gynaecologist and ensure a balanced diet and moderate exercise to develop immunity. They should also follow the distancing guideline, both doctors said.