COVID-19 Vaccination in Pregnancy Shown to Be Safe for Infant Brain Development

COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy seems safe in terms of neurodevelopment through 18 months of age, according to a study published online Jan. 22 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Where Black Americans are more likely to be vaccine-hesitant, this study is crucial in the understanding of long-term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. As of 2022, this hesitancy has been shown to be decreasing.

Eleni G. Jaswa, M.D., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study, Assessing the Safety of Pregnancy During the Coronavirus Pandemic (ASPIRE), to examine whether in utero exposure to maternal COVID-19 vaccination is associated with differences in scores on the Ages and Stages Questionnaire, third edition (ASQ-3), at ages 12 and 18 months. A total of 2,487 pregnant participants were enrolled at less than 10 weeks of gestation. Neurodevelopmental assessments were included for 2,261 and 1,940 infants aged 12 and 18 months, respectively.

The researchers found that 30.6 percent of 1,541 exposed infants and 28.2 percent of 720 unexposed infants screened abnormally for developmental delay at 12 months; the corresponding prevalences were 20.1 and 23.2 percent of 1,301 and 639 infants at 18 months, respectively. After adjustment for confounding variables, including maternal age, race, ethnicity, education, income, maternal depression, and anxiety, there was no difference seen in risk for abnormal ASQ-3 screened at 12 or 18 months. The results were not affected after further adjustment for preterm birth and infant sex.

“These data suggest that maternal vaccination against COVID-19 during pregnancy was safe from the perspective of offspring neurodevelopment through 18 months of age,” the authors write.

The ASPIRE Study was partially funded by pharmaceutical companies.

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