Are vaccines linked to birth defects?

During pregnancy, it is natural to be concerned about the health of your baby. Eating well, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep can definitely benefit your baby. But what about vaccines? Can they protect you and your baby? Are there any risks?

Contrary to some of the rumors you may have read, vaccines are not linked to birth defects.

Here’s what you need to know about vaccines during pregnancy and how to protect yourself and your baby from potentially serious illnesses.

To date, there is no evidence that vaccination during pregnancy can cause birth defects or developmental problems for the baby.

In fact, vaccines during pregnancy have many benefits, including protecting you and your baby from serious complications associated with certain infections.

A 2017 major study analyzed more than 20 years of data reported to the National Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) between 1990 and 2014. The researchers noted that there were few reports of birth defects. They also said there was no pattern in these reports indicating a condition caused by vaccines during pregnancy.

Most vaccines are safe during pregnancy. But some vaccines must be taken before you get pregnant or after you give birth.

Vaccines containing live virus are not recommended during pregnancy because there is a risk that live virus can cause infections in an unborn baby. However, even these vaccines have not been shown to cause birth defects.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends avoiding these vaccinations during pregnancy:

  • MMR
  • HPV
  • chickenpox (chickenpox)
  • tuberculosis
  • the flu shot, which is given by nasal spray (although the flu shot, given by injection, is safe and recommended during pregnancy)

If you plan to travel, try to get vaccinated before you become pregnant, if possible. These vaccines, often necessary for travel, are not recommended during pregnancy:

Discuss these vaccines with your doctor to determine if the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. If you receive one of these vaccines and then find out that you are pregnant, tell your doctor immediately. You will probably need an extra dose if needed after giving birth.

Vaccinations before or during pregnancy are important for your health, as well as that of your baby.

With vaccination, you reduce the risk of certain infections that could lead to serious illness and potential pregnancy complications. Your baby also benefits from some of the antibodies created by vaccines in the first few months of life.

Even if you are fully immunized during pregnancy, your baby will still need to follow his childhood vaccination schedule and get fully vaccinated.

For example, newborns who contract the flu virus are at a higher risk of developing pneumonia. In addition, half of newborns who develop whooping cough (pertussis) are hospitalized with a serious illness.

You can help reduce these risks by getting vaccinated against these two viruses before or during pregnancy.

Ideally, you will be up to date on your vaccination schedules before getting pregnant. However, some vaccines are still needed at certain times during your pregnancy, such as those against influenza and whooping cough viruses.

There is no evidence linking the COVID-19 vaccine to birth defects. In fact, pregnancy is considered a risk factor to develop serious illness due to COVID-19.

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 helps protect you from the disease and can help prevent serious symptoms if you develop them.

If you have not yet had the COVID-19 vaccine or are partially vaccinated, talk to a doctor or healthcare professional about the appropriate next steps based on your vaccination schedule.

During each pregnancy, the CDC recommends that you receive both your annual flu shot and whooping cough. The whooping cough vaccine is known as the Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.

Immunization against pertussis and influenza during pregnancy not only protects you against the disease, but immunity can also extend into the first months of your baby’s life, when he is most vulnerable to these types of diseases. infections.

These benefits outweigh any possible – and unsubstantiated – claims for birth defects and developmental problems associated with whooping cough and flu vaccines. Always discuss vaccine information with a doctor or healthcare professional.

The CDC recommends the following vaccines during pregnancy:

Pertussis (whooping cough)

Pertussis is a serious disease and very contagious respiratory infection. Although this infection can be serious in anyone at any age, it can be fatal in infants.

Babies and young children do not start the series of pertussis vaccines until 2 months of age. So, getting vaccinated during pregnancy can help protect you and your baby from this potentially deadly infection.

Currently, the CDC recommends that all pregnant women receive a Tdap vaccine between week 27 and week 36 pregnancy, with earlier vaccinations within this period preferable. This ensures the best possible protection for your baby.

The whooping cough vaccine is considered safe. Although some people may experience side effects, these are generally mild and will not interfere with your daily activities. Some of them to understand side effects at the injection site, such as pain and swelling, fever, tiredness or upset stomach.


If you don’t already get an annual flu shot, now is a good time to start.

According to CDCpregnant people may be at higher risk for serious illnesses caused by the flu virus, possibly due to temporary changes in overall immune and organ function.

As with pertussis vaccination, timing is critical here to provide optimal protection against influenza.

The CDC recommends that pregnant women get the flu shot by the end of October to ensure the most adequate protection possible for mother and baby.


If you haven’t yet had your COVID-19 shot or need a booster, the CDC says it’s safe to get them while pregnant.

In fact, the The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination and booster injections during pregnancy. Their recommendations are in agreement with other professional medical organizations, such as:

Other vaccine recommendations

Other possible vaccines a doctor may recommend during pregnancy to understand:

  • hepatitis A, especially if you have a history of chronic liver disease
  • hepatitis B, if you have the infection, to prevent transmission to your baby during delivery
  • meningococcal vaccines before pregnancy, and possibly other bacterial and viral infections if you plan to travel abroad during pregnancy

Also, if you haven’t had an MMR vaccine yet, your doctor may recommend that you get vaccinated a month before trying to get pregnant.

This helps prevent possible birth defects, miscarriages or stillbirths due to rubella. Rubella is a serious and life-threatening form of viral infection.

Most vaccines are considered safe during pregnancy. There is no evidence to support a link between vaccinations and birth irregularities or developmental problems in a baby.

Although some vaccines can cause mild side effects, it is important to know that these can also occur outside of pregnancy.

Talk to a doctor or healthcare professional about any concerns you have about vaccines for you and your baby. They can make recommendations that will help ensure the best possible health for parent and baby.

About Sally Dominguez

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