Pregnant Women With COVID-19 'More Likely' To Be Hospitalized, CDC Says

by Julie Scagell
Cropped Hand Of Doctor Examining Pregnant Woman Belly With Stethoscope
Vithun Khamsong/EyeEm/Getty

The CDC added pregnancy as a possible risk factor for COVID-19

New information out of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows pregnant women who contract COVID-19 are at higher risk for being hospitalized, ending up in intensive care, and being put on a mechanical ventilation unit than women who are not expecting.

The CDC added pregnancy to the list of health conditions that may make contracting COVID-19 more serious — a list that also includes underlying health conditions and age of patients.

“An MMWR study suggests that pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized and are at increased risk for intensive care unit (ICU) admission and receipt of mechanical ventilation than nonpregnant women. Risk of death is similar for both groups. But much remains unknown,” the CDC’s website states.

The aforementioned study found that between Jan. 22 and June 23, 9,989 pregnant women tested positive for COVID-19 and 26 died. They were also 5.4 times more likely to be hospitalized, 1.5 times more likely to be admitted to the ICU, and 1.7 times more likely to need mechanical ventilation. Pregnant women, however, didn’t have an increased risk for mortality. The report includes information on 8,207 pregnant women between the ages of 15 to 44, who were compared to 83,205 non-pregnant women in the same age range.

Latino and Hispanic pregnant women were disproportionately impacted, similarly to the general population.

“During pregnancy, women experience immunologic and physiologic changes that could increase their risk for more severe illness from respiratory infections,” the CDC said. But ICU admission and an increase in use of ventilation are “distinct proxies for illness severity.”

According to Bloomberg, CDC Director Robert Redfield said on a call with reporters that anyone at higher risk for COVID-19 complications should limit interactions with others and take added security measures to ensure they are staying safe.

“We think it’s important to get the information out there that pregnant women need to take precautions,” Dana Meaney-Delman, CDC’s COVID-19 deputy incident manager, said.

The new study is far from conclusive. According to the New York Times, the study did not indicate whether pregnant women were hospitalized because of labor and delivery or because of COVID-related complications. Though more studies need to be done, the bottom line is that pregnant people need to be vigilant about their health during the pandemic. They should also be carefully monitored if they are infected.

“I think the bottom line is this: These findings suggest that compared to nonpregnant women, pregnant women are more likely to have severe COVID,” said Dr. Denise Jamieson, a member of the COVID-19 task force at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The CDC wasn’t able to conclude any impacts to fetuses or babies born to women who contracted COVID-19 because it’s simply too soon to know in the life cycle of this virus, but they “wouldn’t be surprised” if they are at higher risk for preterm birth.

Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.