UNVACCINATED pregnant mums who contracted Covid-19 are at greater risk of stillbirths, a study has revealed.
Experts found that women who were most likely to face complications were those who were unvaccinated.
The research team in Scotland found that 98 per cent of pregnant women with Covid-19 admitted to critical care are unvaccinated.
Pregnant women have continuously been urged to come forward for their vaccinations after it was proven that jabs are safe for both mother and baby.
The study was conducted on 87,000 women between December 2020 and October 2021, so will not include many Omicron cases – which has been proven to be a milder strain than both the Delta and Alpha variants that came before it.
A string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other Covid strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.
Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.
The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.
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The findings of the study were published in Nature Medicine and found that preterm births, stillbirths and newborn deaths were more common among women who had the virus 28 days or less before their delivery date, compared to background rates.
Of the women's babies who sadly died, all had been unvaccinated against Covid.
Experts stressed that it is not possible to say if Covid-19 contributed directly to the deaths or preterm births as they did not have access to detailed clinical records for individual women.
During the initial rollout of Covid jabs, pregnant women were told they were unable to have the jabs due to a lack of evidence on the impact on pregnant women.
This put many people off having their vaccines.
But in December the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), in December, said that pregnant women should be regarded as a clinical risk group for Covid-19 and should be given vaccines quickly.
Researchers found that vaccination uptake during the study period was lower in pregnant women, compared with women aged 18 to 44 in the general population.
Under a third of pregnant women who gave birth in October 2021 were fully vaccinated – meaning more than 14 days had elapsed since a second vaccine – compared with 77 per cent of the general female population aged 18 to 44.
The team analysed data on extended perinatal deaths, which is defined as the death of a baby in the womb after 24 weeks of pregnancy, or in the first 28 days after birth.
Covid-19 vaccination in pregnancy is crucial to protect women and babies from preventable, life-threatening complications of Covid-19
They found that the extended perinatal death rate among babies born within 28 days of their mother developing Covid-19 was 23 per 1,000 births.
They compared this to the background perinatal mortality rate, the rate for all babies born in Scotland regardless of whether their mother had previously had Covid-19 or been vaccinated, which was six per 1000 births during the pandemic.
The results showed that 17 per cent of babies born within 28 days of their mother developing Covid-19 were delivered prematurely – more than three weeks before their due date – compared to a background preterm birth rate of 8 per cent.
It is key to highlight that to date, there has been one maternal death following Covid infection in pregnancy in Scotland, the researchers said.
Families have previously come forward, urging other people to get their vaccine after their daughters died while pregnant.
David Exley said daughter Sadie, 24, fell gravely ill with the deadly virus in late November, before losing her battle In December.
He believes she would have been saved if she was vaccinated.
Another family urged people to come forward for their jabs after pregnant mum was unable to meet her baby, after she died of Covid.
Since the start of Scotland's vaccination programme, a total of 4,950 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed during pregnancy, with 77 per cent of these cases in unvaccinated women.
Experts said the findings highlight the importance of getting the vaccine.
Cops co-lead Dr Sarah Stock, of the University of Edinburgh's Usher Institute , who is also a consultant obstetrician said the data adds to evidence that vaccination in pregnancy does not increase the risk of complications in pregnancy, but Covid-19 does.
"Covid-19 vaccination in pregnancy is crucial to protect women and babies from preventable, life-threatening complications of Covid-19", she added.
Cops co-lead, Dr Rachael Wood, Consultant in Public Health Medicine with Public Health Scotland, added: "It is clear that vaccination is the safest and most effective way for pregnant women to protect themselves and their babies from severe Covid-19 disease."
Prof Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics, and Clinical Director South London CRN, Department of Women and Children’s Health, King’s College London, said: "The benefit of Covid-19 vaccination to improving outcomes for the baby has not been previously evaluated.
"This excellent paper confirms from whole population data in Scotland, pregnancy results in fewer women being vaccinated (32 per cent vs 77 per cent). However over 90 per cent of admissions to hospital were in unvaccinated women.
"In 104 women admitted to critical care, 102 were unvaccinated. Baby deaths occurred in around 2% of cases when background rate is about 0.5%, representing a 4 fold increase. T
"This is consistent with data from the United States. The paper illustrates the importance of vaccination in pregnancy, which is known to be safe, and the impact Covid has on mother and babies.”
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