Yes, the risk of complications during pregnancy is greater in unvaccinated women

When asked about COVID vaccination of pregnant women on BFMTV on February 2, Health Minister Olivier Véran said he had contracted COVID-19. : “There is a 20 times greater risk of having a baby prematurely if you are an unvaccinated woman” . He also adds: “Unvaccinated women are 3 to 5 times more likely to die in utero” .

People have asked us on Twitter to verify these claims.

problem of temporality

Asked what source Olivier Véran relied on to claim this was the case “You are 20 times more likely to have a premature baby if you are an unvaccinated woman‘ replies the minister’s office that the latter cites an American study published on the Jama Network. The study involved 869,079 adult women, including 18,715 women with COVID-19, who gave birth between March 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021 at 499 medical centers in the United States.

Extract 2 of the results of the study on pregnant women suffering from Covid-19
Excerpt from the results of the study on pregnant women suffering from Covid-19. Source.

In fact, during a given week of pregnancy (from 32 to 36 weeks), a ratio of 22 occurs. In addition, the authors of the study state in their results that Women with COVID-19 were more likely to have had a preterm birth at less than 37 weeks compared to women without COVID-19. This tends to confirm the words of Olivier Véran.

Excerpt from the results of the study on pregnant women suffering from Covid-19
Summary of study results on pregnant women infected with Covid-19

However, the study continued March 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021. This does not apply to data from pregnant women and those who have been vaccinated (start of vaccination until December 2020) on the one hand, and exposure to later variants such as Delta or Omicron on the other. Even if no woman was actually vaccinated in the study, does the ratio of 1 to 20 mentioned by Olivier Véran still apply today?

Recent comparative studies between vaccinated and unvaccinated pregnant women confirm the higher risk of complications in unvaccinated women.

Increased risk of complications in unvaccinated pregnant women

A study published in Nature Medicine on January 13, 2022 shows that serious complications were more common in unvaccinated pregnant women than in vaccinated ones. The study, conducted in Scotland, counted 4,950 confirmed infections in pregnant women as of December 1, 2020. Unvaccinated people were more likely to have “serious complications” such as

Of the 4950 confirmed infections during pregnancy, 823 (17%) were associated with hospitalization and 104 (2%) with intensive care unit admission. In terms of vaccination status, more than three-quarters of infections during pregnancy (77%) in unvaccinated women occurred at the time of onset of infection, as reported in this British Medical Journal article reviewing the subject.

Preterm birth and perinatal mortality after SARS-CoV-2 during pregnancy
Preterm birth and perinatal mortality after SARS-CoV-2 during pregnancy. Source.

Another NIH-funded study involving nearly 2,400 pregnant women infected with SARS-CoV-2 found that women with moderate to severe infection were more likely to have a cesarean section, premature delivery, death in childbirth, or serious illness was higher to hypertensive pregnancy disorders, postpartum bleeding or other infections than SARS-CoV-2. They were also more likely to lose the pregnancy or see a child die during the neonatal period.

What about side effects

Today about 30% of pregnant women are not vaccinated. Many wonder about the side effects. In September 2021, the editorial board published a fact check article about vaccines increasing the risk of spontaneous miscarriage. Which was obviously wrong.

Spontaneous abortions account for an average of 15% of pregnancies, according to this May 2021 Lancet study. (Not to be confused with abortions)
In France there are an average of 61,600 births per month (based on 740,000 births in 2020 – preliminary results in November 2020). Without the 15%, that would be 70,840 births per month, or APPROX 9,240 abortions (natural/unwanted) per month on annual average in 2020 (70,840-61,600)(1).
However, since vaccination of pregnant women began, 213 cases of termination of pregnancy have been reported in the National Pharmacovigilance Database (BNPV). Since 70% of pregnant women are vaccinated, the complications associated with pregnancy cannot be attributed to vaccination, as ANSM reminds us in its latest report:

In summary, data from the literature and from pharmacovigilance surveillance so far show no risk of vaccination against Covid-19 in pregnant and breastfeeding women. Furthermore, it should be emphasized that current data from the international literature consistently show that maternal infection with SARS-CoV-2 would increase the risk of fetal, maternal and neonatal complications and that this risk could be increased by the arrival of the alpha and delta variants . It therefore seems important to remember the current recommendations for vaccination of all pregnant women, regardless of the stage of pregnancy..

No data is available for the Omicron variant.

fact check

confirmation 1 : There is a 20 times higher risk of having a baby prematurely if you are an unvaccinated woman.
verdict 1 : Partly true. While the study in question shows a ratio of 22, it doesn’t focus on the Delta or Omicron variant. However, recent studies clearly show an increased risk of complications for unvaccinated pregnant women.

confirmation 2 : There is a 3 to 5 times greater risk of fetal death in utero in an unvaccinated woman.
verdict 2 : True. The scientific literature mentions higher intrauterine fetal deaths in unvaccinated pregnant women in similar proportions.


(1)This unchecked calculation method provides information about the approximate number of abortions in France (excluding abortions). Abortions here include miscarriage, uterine death and ectopic pregnancy..

Article updated on 02/23/2022 at 10:05 am: Correction of an error in the figure


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