Fact Check: mRNA Vaccines Do NOT Change DNA Or Cause Birth Defects

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: mRNA Vaccines Do NOT Change DNA Or Cause Birth Defects Old Images

Can an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine given to a woman cause changes in the DNA of a baby she is carrying and result in a "mutant baby" born with extra limbs or other deformities? No, that's not true: The mRNA in COVID vaccines does not enter the nucleus of human cells, where the DNA is, and does not alter the DNA of the mother or her unborn baby. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not identified any safety concerns for pregnant people who were vaccinated or for their babies.

Non-contemporaneous photos of real children with birth defects who were born years before the mRNA COVID vaccines and in one case, a picture of a baby with a photoshopped tail, are being used alongside these false claims about mRNA vaccines.

The claim appears in a video (archived here) published by bestnewshere.com on October 11, 2021, under the title "Mutant Babies -- The Newest Product Of The MRNA DNA Changing Kill Shot. The Jab Is Killing Millions! -- Indisputable Evidence Worldwide! Must See Videos!" It opened:



This is how the link appeared when it was shared to Facebook on October 14, 2021:


(Image source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Oct 15 20:05:35 2021 UTC)

The child pictured here was born on September 20, 2019, in Tonk, in Rajasthan, India, before the COVID outbreak and the development of the COVID vaccine. An article published in mirror.co.uk titled, "Baby born with 4 legs and 3 hands after two triplets become conjoined in womb" said the mother had not had an ultrasound during pregnancy and was unaware she was pregnant with more than one baby. Doctors said they believe one triplet was mostly absorbed by another. The third baby, a boy, developed normally. These children were born before the coronavirus pandemic or the introduction of any COVID-19 vaccines.

Another video circulating shows Turkish Welfare Party Chairman Fatih Erbakan saying, "This is not a vaccine but a genetic modifier." He holds up images of babies, claiming they are examples of what could happen. This video is being shared outside Turkey on such sites as stopworldcontrol.com and BitChute.

The Turkish fact checking organization teyit.org reported on September 22, 2021, that these photos of infants are unrelated to the mRNA vaccines. One photo of a baby with a tail is clearly labeled as digitally manipulated on the stock photo licensing site Alamy. It dates back to August 2, 2009. Another baby, born in India in 2013, has a genetic condition called "Werewolf Syndrome." Her story was reported in DailyMail.co.uk on November 1, 2013. Another birth in India, reported in india.com on June 3, 2016, of two babies, a boy and a girl with six limbs between them, were born attached at the torso.


(Image source: Lead Stories composite of YouTube screenshots taken on Fri Oct 15 21:06:07 2021 UTC)

Lead Stories spoke by telephone with Lorrie Harris-Sagaribay, an information specialist in factors that can deform embryos, at MotherToBaby in North Carolina on October 15, 2021. MotherToBaby is a nonprofit that shares evidence-based information on the safety and risk of various medications and exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The mRNA vaccines do not travel freely in the body, Harris-Sagaribay explained. When a pregnant person is vaccinated, the vaccine does not go to the baby. However, when the mother's body develops antibodies in response to the vaccine, those antibodies are able to cross the placenta and the baby can benefit from them.

The COVID vaccines only protect against SARS-CoV-2 virus, not against birth defects, she said. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people alike still have a small chance of their baby having a birth defect. About 3% to 5% of babies are born with some form of birth defect. Of these, only 5% are the result of exposure to a teratogen, something that can cause a birth defect like a drug or something in the environment. The MotherToBaby fact sheet on COVID vaccines contains links to up-to-date resources. Two of the relevant points in this FAQ explain:

Does getting a COVID-19 vaccine increase the chance of birth defects?

Every pregnancy starts out with a 3-5% chance of having a birth defect. This is called the background risk. Based on what is known about these and other vaccines, getting a COVID-19 vaccine is not expected to increase the chance of birth defects.
Fever is a possible side effect of the COVID-19 vaccines. A high fever in the first trimester can increase the chance of certain birth defects. Acetaminophen is usually recommended to reduce fever during pregnancy. For more information about fever and pregnancy, see the MotherToBaby fact sheet about fever/hyperthermia at https://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/hyperthermia-pregnancy/.

Does getting a COVID-19 vaccine increase the chance of other pregnancy complications?

Four studies involving more than 4,000 people who gave birth after getting a COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy have not found increased risks for pregnancy complications such as preterm birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy), babies born smaller than expected, stillbirth, or neonatal death. The majority of people in these studies received mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. Pregnancy data is still limited for the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen viral vector vaccine.

The CDC fact sheet for people planning for pregnancy emphasizes that COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for everyone over 12, including people planning to get pregnant and people who are already pregnant. It offers this (including the bold face emphasis) in the portion of the fact sheet on safety monitoring:

Findings from U.S. vaccine safety monitoring systems are preliminary but reassuring. These data, which included people who received mRNA vaccines (i.e., Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), did not identify any safety concerns for pregnant people who were vaccinated or for their babies. Pregnant people reported similar types and frequencies of side effects as non-pregnant people, including serious side effects. Serious nausea and vomiting were slightly more common among pregnant people. Pregnancy outcomes in vaccinated people were similar to those in studies of pregnant people conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic. Another report looked at pregnant people enrolled in the v-safe pregnancy registry who were vaccinated before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Scientists did not find an increased risk for miscarriage among people who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy. Additional data are being gathered on pregnancy outcomes in people who received a COVID-19 vaccine early during pregnancy and the health of their babies. CDC will report findings as they become available.
Learn more about getting a COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advisory addressed genetic alteration claims as follows:

These vaccines do not enter the nucleus and do not alter human DNA in vaccine recipients. As a result, mRNA vaccines cannot cause any genetic changes (CDC, Zhang 2019, Schlake 2012). Based on the mechanism of action of these vaccines and the demonstrated safety and efficacy in Phase II and Phase III clinical trials, it is expected that the safety and efficacy profile of the vaccine for pregnant individuals would be similar to that observed in nonpregnant individuals. Further, a growing body of observational data so far have not identified any safety concerns for COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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