The study also notes that symptomatic pregnant women are more likely to experience preterm delivery than those without symptoms
Due to the fact that COVID-19 was only identified less than a year ago, we are learning new things daily about the highly infectious virus. Studies surrounding everything from how people are infected and their risk of death to early symptoms and even potential long-term health repercussions of the infection continue to educate us about the novel coronavirus — and also remind us that we are far from understanding it. One of the topics researchers have been studying is how coronavirus impacts women during pregnancy and if it could have a negative outcome on the birth or health of their child. This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new study maintaining that women who get infected with coronavirus during their pregnancy may sustain adverse birth outcomes, including premature birth and stillbirths.
In the study published on the CDC’s website on Wednesday, researchers analyzed data from the COVID-19-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network of 598 women who were hospitalized with COVID-19. Of them, the majority — 55 percent — were asymptomatic at admission. Of those who suffered severe illness, 16 percent were admitted to intensive care, 18 percent were put on ventilators, and two women (1 percent) died.
Additionally, 10 (2 percent) of the pregnancies “completed during COVID-19-associated hospitalizations” resulted in loss, experienced by both symptomatic and asymptomatic women. The study notes that symptomatic pregnant women are more likely to experience preterm delivery than those without symptoms — 23.1 percent compared to just 8 percent.
The study also found that of the live births that occurred during the study, 12.6 percent were preterm deliveries (before 37 weeks pregnant). Researchers point out that the number is higher than the national preterm delivery rate: 10 percent in 2018.
“Severe illness and adverse birth outcomes were observed among hospitalized pregnant women with COVID-19. These findings highlight the importance of preventing and identifying COVID-19 in pregnant women,” researchers point out.
In order to prevent pregnancy complications, researchers suggest pregnant women avoid close contact with persons with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, maintain 6 feet of distance from non-household members, “and take general COVID-19 preventive measures, including wearing masks and practicing hand hygiene.”
Dr. Diana Bianchi, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, added that Black women, who already face high maternal mortality rates, should be especially careful.
“I would be concerned about women of color with asthma or hypertension,” Bianchi told TODAY. “If they had a positive COVID-19 test, they should be especially vigilant and be in frequent contact with their physicians. And if they are unwell or having difficulty breathing, they need to get care in a timely way.”
The CDC also recommends “testing newborns born to mothers with COVID-19, isolation of mothers with COVID-19 and their newborns from other hospitalized mothers and newborns, and infection prevention measures for persons caring for newborns who might be exposed to SARS-CoV-2.”
Finally, they note the importance of continuing to study and monitor COVID-19 in pregnant women, so that a better understanding of the relationship between the virus and pregnancy can be established, improving the health outcomes for mothers and newborns.