Hospitalized pregnant women infected with Covid-19 may face higher risk of preterm delivery, CDC says
Pregnant women who develop Covid-19 may face an increased risk of preterm delivery, suggests a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The odds appeared higher for expectant mothers with symptoms of the disease. The researchers recorded preterm delivery in about 12.6% of hospitalized women. For comparison, it was observed in only 10% of the general US population in 2018. Further, preterm delivery was roughly three times higher than in asymptomatic women. Preterm newborns might be at a higher risk of developing a severe Covid-19 illness.
The study suggested that most pregnant women might not develop symptoms. "Testing policies based on the presence of symptoms might miss many SARS-CoV-2 infections during pregnancy," the CDC wrote. "Early identification of Covid-19 among hospitalized pregnant women can help ensure that health care providers use appropriate personal protective equipment and limit visitors to those essential for patients’ well-being and care"
Against this backdrop, the CDC advises pregnant women to avoid close contact with Covid-19 positive patients or those suspected of having the illness. "CDC 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," the report read.
To understand how Covid-19 affects pregnant women, the team studied 598 hospitalized patients. Among them, 55% had no symptoms at the time of admission. Symptomatic pregnant women developed a severe illness, about 16% needed critical care, 8% were hooked to a mechanical ventilator, and 1% died. About 2% of expectant mothers --both symptomatic and asymptomatic women -- lost their pregnancies.
Of the participants of the study, 448 had a live birth. "Among them, preterm delivery was reported for 23.1% of symptomatic women and 8% of asymptomatic women. Two live-born newborns died during the birth hospitalization -- both were born to symptomatic women who required invasive mechanical ventilation," the CDC explained.
One study said that some infected pregnant women are likely to have a higher risk of preterm delivery. The odds of any preterm birth was high in pregnant women with Covid-19 compared with those without the disease, the researchers said. "This result warrants caution, as it is based on only two studies with a cumulative sample size of 339 and only 25 preterm births," Dr. Catherine McLean Pirkle, associate professor and head of health policy and management specialization, wrote in a related editorial.
"Pregnant women are included in the list of people at moderate risk as a precaution and pregnant women should therefore continue to follow the latest government guidance on social distancing and avoiding anyone with symptoms suggestive of coronavirus," Dr Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who was not involved in the study, said in an earlier statement.
The take-home message is that pregnant women can get seriously ill with this,” Dr. Peter Bernstein, director of the division of maternal-fetal medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, told The New York Times. “We don’t know for sure that they will get sicker than they would have if they weren’t pregnant, but certainly there are women out there who are getting very sick and even dying.”