Vaccines during pregnancy, good or not
“The scientific development and paired safety of these vaccines advise their application to pregnant women, except for medical exceptions, as a protective shield against this type of serious infection,” says Dr. Manuel Sanchez Luna.
“What’s more – reinforces the head of the Neonatology Service at the General University Hospital Gregorio Marañón in Madrid – flu vaccines or covid they are recommended and prioritized at any stage of pregnancy, even more so in periods of high viral incidence among the population”.
Also, the immunization of the mother against whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus during the third trimester of pregnancy has managed to “drastically” reduce the risk of disease in the newborn, especially in the first two months of life after delivery .
Proteins from mother to baby, protective antibodies with vaccines
If any medical advance has caused a substantial improvement in public health, it has been vaccination worldwide; an avant-garde and innovative fact that always generates a before and after in the evolution of infectious diseases.
Some vaccines cannot be inoculated during pregnancy because they are made with live microorganisms, even if their pathological action is attenuated.
The vaccines that are advised during the pregnancy of the baby are inactive vaccines, that is to say that the microorganisms are not alive, so these vaccines have practically no risk for the mother and the fetus.
At first some of these vaccines did not apply to pregnant women.
“There was some fear that its components could cause adverse effects in the future son or daughter; but currently, according to clinical studies, the risk is practically non-existent”, points out Dr. Sanchez Luna, president of seNeo.
Even so, vaccines during pregnancy are always conditional on helping women avoid a serious infectious process, as in the case of influenza or SARS-CoV-2, microorganisms that are very dangerous to human health”. underline
“We know – he emphasizes – that the infection of these two viral entities can cause severe respiratory failure and serious depression in the health of pregnant women, sufficient reasons for their priority vaccination.”
“In addition, morbimortality is reduced very significantly,” he says.
In this same sense, and in relation to COVID-19, mRNA vaccines have shown enormous effectiveness when it comes to protecting the pregnant mother.
Genetically modified messenger RNA (ribonucleic acid) is used to teach our cells to produce proteins from the spike found on the surface of the virus. This causes the body to produce antibodies.
Once its mission is accomplished, this RNA breaks down and never enters the interior of human cells, where our DNA resides.
“Infectious conditions in pregnant women who have received vaccines that use messenger RNA are much milder than the pathological effects of the virus in unvaccinated pregnant women,” the neonatologist emphasizes.
Dr. Manuel Sanchez Luna
The perverse effect of the flu or the coronavirus on the fetus
Influenza infections that can cause severe illness in the mother can also affect fetal development; so protecting the mother against the flu will be decisive in safeguarding the baby’s future.
“High fever and severe general effects on the mother’s health can lead to disturbances in the neurological development of the fetus, malformations in the central nervous system, especially in the neural tube (origin of the brain and spine)”, he explains.
Likewise, the mother’s antibodies will protect the baby during the first months after birth, when it is not yet possible to vaccinate the newborn; fact that will occur from the second month after giving birth.
“These two vaccines inoculated during pregnancy, safe for the mother and the baby, not only protect the pregnant woman but the fetus and the baby… a situation that is replicated in the case of SARS-CoV-2 infection”, insists Dr. Manuel Sanchez Luna.
More vaccines in pregnancy: whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus
The WHO recommends vaccination with tetanus toxoid to all pregnant women in order to prevent neonatal mortality due to the bacterium clostridium tetani, which is very common in groundat feces and the mouth of animals.
The bacteria’s toxin, which enters superficial skin wounds via spores, blocks the nervous system of the spinal cord and causes muscle spasms, among other symptoms.
Diphtheria and whooping cough are spread from person to person through the Cough or the sneezingbut also for contaminated objects due to the contact of the hands of a sick person.
Diphtheria can form a crust on the inside of the throat and cause breathing problems, heart failure and death.
Whooping cough, which can occur in up to 600 cases per 100,000 babies under three months of age, can lead the baby to the ICU for respiratory failure and cyanosis, or blue color of the skin due to lack of oxygen.
The indication of this triple antibacterial vaccine (whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus) during pregnancy, since the mother will be the vector of the diseaseit will be inoculated between the 27th and 36th or 37th weeks of pregnancy in order to transmit the antibodies to the fetus through the placenta.
Whooping cough is a disease that can cause very serious problems for the baby, especially during the first two months of the breastfeeding stage, weeks of risk for the newborn if the mother has not received the vaccine.
“The infections are so serious that they can cause respiratory problems and, in some cases, septicemia (exaggerated response of the immune system to an infection), even the death of the baby during this period,” says Dr. Manuel Sanchez Luna.
“So much so that this bacterial pathology has practically disappeared from our children’s environment thanks to maternal vaccination. Only a few cases are diagnosed in babies whose mothers have not received the whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus vaccine”, he points out.
Anti-D vaccine (immunoglobulin) during pregnancy
Women who are of the Rh negative blood type can generate antibodies during the baby’s gestation. If these antibodies are produced, the woman, in the next pregnancy, runs the risk of giving birth to an anemic baby, or even dying.
For this reason, Rh-negative pregnant women are injected with anti-D immunoglobulin at week 28 of pregnancy, since the antibodies are formed at this stage of pregnancy and can come into contact with the baby’s blood before or after birth
Also, if the baby is Rh positive, another anti-D vaccine will be given to the mother within 72 hours of delivery. If the baby was Rh negative, the mother should not be vaccinated again with immunoglobulin.
As a precaution, the flu vaccines and the covid they are avoided in the first trimester; however, current data confirm its safety in pregnant women and babies.
Likewise, there is no contraindication to administering booster doses when relevant in pregnant and lactating women.
An important aspect to remember is the need for vaccination not only of pregnant mothers, but of all people who may come into contact with babies, both in the family nucleus and in healthcare centers.