• The study was conducted by Scotland's University of Edinburgh
  • It found unvaccinated COVID-positive pregnant women were 4 times more likely to have a stillbirth
  • The COVID-19 vaccination is "crucial in protecting women and babies," experts said

Pregnant women are being urged to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after a recent study found an increased risk of birth-related complications if the former get infected.

The plea comes as the Omicron variant has led to a surge in the number of coronavirus cases in several countries.

According to the study conducted by Scotland's University of Edinburgh, unvaccinated pregnant women who contract COVID-19 are four times more likely to have a stillbirth. The study also found preterm births, stillbirths and newborn deaths are more common among women who contracted COVID-19 28 days, or less, before their delivery date.

Dr. Amy Hercus, an obstetrician and gynecologist, told 7NEWS many of her pregnant patients were worried about what a COVID-19 diagnosis could mean for their unborn baby.

“Lots of patients call me as soon as they receive their positive diagnosis and the biggest message I receive is that they’re scared,” Dr Hercus said. “One of the key factors that has come out of this study is that all of those affected pregnancies were in unvaccinated women."

Following the study, Northern Ireland's chief medical officer, Michael McBride, said COVID-19 in the later stages "can have serious consequences for both mother and baby." McBride added contracting COVID-19 during pregnancy "carries a far higher risk than having the vaccine," BBC reported.

McBride said the COVID-19 vaccination is "crucial in protecting women and babies from the life-threatening complications that can be associated with the virus."

"Omicron is continuing to spread throughout Northern Ireland, so if you are pregnant, or hoping to become pregnant it is absolutely vital that you get vaccinated, this includes getting the booster," he said. "Vaccination is the most effective way you can protect yourself and your unborn baby."

Meanwhile, Dr Carolyn Bailie, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists chair, said "the evidence clearly shows that pregnancy puts women and their babies at higher risk from COVID-19," according to BBC.

She added vaccination can be given at any stage of pregnancy "so please don't wait until after your baby is born, it is vital that you and your baby are protected during pregnancy."

Pregnant woman Pixabay