Michele Younkin, a 28-year-old nurse who works in a COVID-19 unit at St. Jude Medical Center, kisses her 7-month-old son, Jackson, in a park on her day off in Garden Grove, California in August of 2020. Credit: Jae C. Hong / AP

Infants born to coronavirus-infected mothers have a much higher chance of health issues such as difficulty breathing compared with the newborns of moms without COVID-19, a new study shows.

The study, published in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, adds to mounting evidence that COVID-19 complications can be especially hard on pregnant people and babies.

“There were significant differences between the COVID-19-positive and healthy controls,” lead author Dr. Elior Eliasi wrote.

That included higher rates of gestational diabetes, significantly lower white blood count, increased bleeding during birth, and “neonatal respiratory complications,” he wrote.

“We found that COVID-19-positive parturients had higher rates of composite adverse outcomes than healthy parturients, with symptomatic women having higher rates of adverse outcomes than asymptomatic women,” the study authors said.

While some pregnant women are forgoing vaccination for fear it could affect their babies, the opposite appears to be true, as ABC News reported in an extensive Q&A about pregnancy and COVID-19. Pregnant people are more prone to severe illness, hospitalization and even death if they contract COVID-19, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been strongly urging them since the summer to get the jab.

The CDC has been joined by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in advocating that pregnant people get the shot.

Pregnant people not only avoid severe illness by getting vaccinated but they also pass high levels of antibodies on to their babies, researchers led by New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine found in a study published last month in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology—Maternal–Fetal Medicine.

Pregnant women are twice as likely to end up in the hospital with COVID-19 complications, according to the CDC, and have a 70 percent higher risk of death. Add to that the findings of another study, published last month in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, which found that the delta variant added to the severity. Preterm birth and stillbirth are also on the list of risks to the fetus, the CDC said.

Theresa Braine, New York Daily News