Reductions in stillbirths and preterm birth in COVID-19–vaccinated women: a multicenter cohort study of vaccination uptake and perinatal outcomes

Lisa Hui, Melvin B. Marzan, Daniel L. Rolnik, Stephanie Potenza, Natasha Pritchard, Joanne M. Said, Kirsten R. Palmer, Clare L. Whitehead, Penelope M. Sheehan, Jolyon Ford, Ben W. Mol, Susan P. Walker

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Background: COVID-19 infection in pregnancy is associated with a higher risk of progression to severe disease, but vaccine uptake by pregnant women is hindered by persistent safety concerns. COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy has been shown to reduce stillbirth, but its relationship with preterm birth is uncertain. Objective: This study aimed to measure the rate of COVID-19 vaccine uptake among women giving birth in Melbourne, Australia, and to compare perinatal outcomes by vaccination status. Study Design: This was a retrospective multicenter cohort study conducted after the June 2021 government recommendations for messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy. Routinely collected data from all 12 public maternity hospitals in Melbourne were extracted on births at ≥20 weeks’ gestation from July 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022. Maternal sociodemographic characteristics were analyzed from the total birth cohort. Perinatal outcomes were compared between vaccinated and unvaccinated women for whom weeks 20 to 43 of gestation fell entirely within the 9-month data collection period. The primary outcomes were the rates of stillbirth and preterm birth (spontaneous and iatrogenic) in singleton pregnancies of at least 24 weeks’ gestation, after exclusion of congenital anomalies. Secondary perinatal outcomes included the rate of congenital anomalies among infants born at ≥20 weeks’ gestation and birthweight ≤third centile and newborn intensive care unit admissions among infants born without congenital anomalies at ≥24 weeks’ gestation. We calculated the adjusted odds ratio of perinatal outcomes among vaccinated vs unvaccinated women using inverse propensity score-weighting regression adjustment with multiple covariates; P<.05 was considered statistically significant. Results: Births from 32,536 women were analyzed: 17,365 (53.4%) were vaccinated and 15,171 (47.6%) were unvaccinated. Vaccinated women were more likely to be older, nulliparous, nonsmoking, not requiring an interpreter, of higher socioeconomic status, and vaccinated against pertussis and influenza. Vaccination status also varied by region of birth. Vaccinated women had a significantly lower rate of stillbirth compared with unvaccinated women (0.2% vs 0.8%; adjusted odds ratio, 0.18; 95% confidence interval, 0.09–0.37; P<.001). Vaccination was associated with a significant reduction in total preterm births at <37 weeks (5.1% vs 9.2%; adjusted odds ratio, 0.60; 95% confidence interval, 0.51–0.71; P<.001), spontaneous preterm birth (2.4% vs 4.0%; adjusted odds ratio, 0.73; 95% confidence interval, 0.56–0.96; P=.02), and iatrogenic preterm birth (2.7% vs 5.2%; adjusted odds ratio, 0.52; 95% confidence interval, 0.41–0.65; P<.001). Infants born to vaccinated mothers also had lower rates of admission to the neonatal intensive care unit. There was no significant increase in the rate of congenital anomalies or birthweight ≤3rd centile in vaccinated women. Vaccinated women were significantly less likely to have an infant with a major congenital anomaly compared with the unvaccinated group (2.4% vs 3.0%; adjusted odds ratio, 0.72; 95% confidence interval, 0.56–0.94; P=.02). This finding remained significant even when the analysis was restricted to women vaccinated before 20 weeks’ gestation. Conclusion: COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy was associated with a reduction in stillbirth and preterm birth, and not associated with any adverse impact on fetal growth or development. Vaccine coverage was substantially influenced by known social determinants of health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585.e1-585.e16
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • cohort studies
  • COVID-19
  • pregnancy outcome
  • premature birth
  • stillbirth
  • vaccination

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