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There is currently no evidence of an increase in miscarriages as a result of COVID-19 immunization.
This claim was made based on United Kingdom data.
Health officials in the U.K. said the figures are being taken out of context. The article doesn’t account for the increase in the vaccination rates over time, or the average number of miscarriages that occur naturally.
An alarming article that warns of miscarriages following COVID-19 vaccinations is being widely shared on social media.
The story, published by a website called The Daily Expose, claims to have calculated a significant increase in the number of recent miscarriages in the United Kingdom as a direct result of pregnant women getting the shot.
The article’s headline, which is circulating as an image in social media posts in the U.S., reads: "Number of women to lose their unborn child after having the COVID vaccine increases by 366% in just six weeks." The article says that the miscarriages came "as a result of the mothers receiving one of the COVID-19 vaccines."
This is misleading and inaccurate. First, the image does not indicate that the figures the article cites come from the U.K., not the U.S., even though the widely circulated version of the post we found included the Instagram handle @antimaskNYC, an account that also shared the post.
Second, U.K. health officials said the article takes the numbers out of context, as it doesn’t account for the increase in vaccination rates over time, or the average number of miscarriages that occur naturally. Lastly, there is no evidence of a causal link between miscarriages and COVID-19 vaccines.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The story references data from the U.K.’s Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s Yellow Card scheme. The reporting system releases weekly reports and monitors possible side effects of vaccines, similar to the VAERS system maintained by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Just six weeks separate the first and seventh report, and the shocking increase in the number of women losing their unborn and newborn child in that time due to having either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca Covid vaccine is appalling," the article says.
It claims that between Dec. 9, 2020, and Jan. 24, 2021, a total of six women had a miscarriage "as a direct result" of receiving one of the COVID-19 vaccines. The story then says there were 22 more reports of miscarriages from Jan. 24 through March 7, bringing the total to 28 — a rise of about 366.6%.
But the article fails to consider how many people were vaccinated during these time periods, and it overlooks the average number of naturally occurring miscarriages in the U.K. What’s more, no causal link between the two has been established: reports that these incidents occurred after vaccination are not confirmation that they resulted from a vaccine.
When asked about the claim, the U.K. regulator, known as MHRA, told PolitiFact that there is "no pattern" to suggest an elevated risk of miscarriage related to the COVID-19 vaccines.
"The number of Yellow Card reports for any suspected reaction should not be compared from one period to another or between vaccines, as this takes no account of any differences in the extent or patterns of usage between the time periods," the agency said.
In the Dec. 9 to Jan. 24 time period when six miscarriages were reported to Yellow Card, there were roughly 7.1 million people who had been vaccinated. By March 7, the number vaccinated jumped to 22.7 million. That means that, in the later period when 22 miscarriages were reported, 15.6 million more people had been vaccinated. Based on those raw numbers, the rates of people reporting miscarriages in both periods are closer —
0.000084% in the early group compared with 0.000141% in the later group, which included more than three times as many women of child-bearing age.
MHRA noted that the number of people ages 18 to 45 who received a first dose increased from 1.3 million to 4.3 million in the same time frame — and with half of these expected to be women — the number of women of child-bearing age who were vaccinated is estimated to have increased 223% from 665,524 to 2,146,866.
"Sadly, miscarriage is estimated to occur in about 1 in 4 pregnancies (equal to 25 in 100) in the U.K. (outside of the pandemic), and most occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, so some miscarriages would be expected to occur following vaccination purely by chance," the agency wrote. "The MHRA has received a small number of reports of miscarriage following vaccine exposure in first 12 weeks of pregnancy, which we are closely monitoring. There is currently no pattern to suggest an elevated risk of miscarriage related to exposure to the COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy."
According to the Mayo Clinic, miscarriage "is a relatively common experience" and occurs in about 10% to 20% of known pregnancies, with the rate increasing with age. Many reproductive health experts say the true number is likely much higher.
The Daily Expose article also claimed that one stillbirth occurred following an AstraZeneca vaccination, which the MHRA disputed. The agency said some reports of events related to pregnancy later turn out to be incorrect and that "no actual stillbirths" have been reported so far.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC have reached similar conclusions, saying that there is no evidence to date that the shots cause any problems in pregnancy. But they caution that data is still limited. The agencies are using safety monitoring systems like VAERS to collect more information and hope to have more robust results in the coming months.
The U.K. government, however, does not routinely recommend the COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women. Officials there acknowledge that available data hasn’t raised any safety concerns, but they say it’s still too limited to recommend the shots to all pregnant women.
The MHRA added that the potential benefits of vaccination may be important for those who are at high risk of getting infected, or those with clinical conditions that put them at high risk of suffering serious complications from COVID-19.
The CDC, as well as many reproductive health organizations, says the vaccines should be offered to eligible pregnant and breastfeeding women, and recommend that they (and those who plan to become pregnant) talk to their doctors to weigh the risks and benefits.
A claim circulating online claims that the number of pregnant women who have miscarried increased by "366% in just six weeks" as a result of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
This statement takes data out of context and presents an unfounded conclusion. Health officials in the U.K. say that there is currently no evidence of an increase in miscarriages after COVID-19 immunization. The article on which the claim is based misrepresents figures from the country’s vaccine reporting system, and officials say it doesn’t account for the increased vaccination rate over time, or the country’s average rate of miscarriages. Nor is there any evidence that has shown a causal link between the vaccine and miscarriages.
We rate this False.
Daily Expose, "Number of women to lose their unborn child after having the Covid Vaccine increases by 366% in just six weeks", March 21, 2021
Instagram post, March 29, 2021
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Information about COVID-19 Vaccines for People who Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding, March 18, 2021
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 Vaccine Monitoring Systems for Pregnant People, March 3, 2021
Mayo Clinic Miscarriage, Accessed April 1, 2021
PolitiFact, Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for pregnant women? Here’s what we know, and don’t know, Feb. 19, 2021
Reuters, Fact Check-There is no evidence to suggest COVID-19 vaccines increase the risk of miscarriage, March 31, 2021
Email interview, Tafi Maruta news and digital specialist at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, April 1, 2021
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