Author ORCID Identifier


Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Genetic Counseling

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Myla Ashfaq

Committee Member

Syed Hashmi

Committee Member

Kate Richardson

Committee Member

Kathleen Shields

Committee Member

Molly Daniels

Committee Member

Lorrie Harris-Sagaribay


In the United States, Coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) has disproportionately impacted vulnerable populations, including pregnant people, who were shown to be at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 infection and pregnancy complications. Research on the teratogenicity of COVID-19 is still ongoing, but overall neither COVID-19 infection nor vaccination appear to increase the risk of birth defects. Numerous studies have investigated healthcare providers’ opinions on whether and when pregnant people should get vaccinated, as well as pregnant people’s perceptions of COVID-19 vaccines and psychosocial impacts of the pandemic. However, more research is needed to identify the most common concerns regarding the teratogenicity of the virus and the vaccine.

The purpose of this study is to assess the frequency and type of exposures asked about through MotherToBaby (MTB), a non-profit service operated by the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), from before the COVID-19 pandemic began through two years into the pandemic. 54,778 MTB contacts received from March 2018 through March 2022 were assessed for information on the 78,861 exposures asked about. Demographic information of the individual contacting MTB was collected as well. The exposures were coded into eleven broad categories, such as prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, and infection. Microsoft Excel and STATA were used to perform descriptive statistical analyses of the data set.

The total number of contacts increased from 2019 to 2022 and the exposure category with the highest number of contacts was prescription medications, followed by COVID-19 related exposures. Peaks in the number of contacts relating to COVID-19 correlate with various pandemic milestones, such as when vaccines were approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Taken together, this data describes the frequency and types of exposures consumers and healthcare providers inquired about before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is valuable information for healthcare providers and agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to be able to better prepare for future pan/epidemics.


COVID-19, teratogen, pregnancy exposure, postpartum exposure, preconception

Available for download on Wednesday, April 16, 2025