Two new reports released on Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that coronavirus-infected pregnant women are more susceptible to serious illness and death, and at a higher risk of preterm birth.
Mothers expecting COVID-19 infection are at risk of being inserted into the ICU and need about three times more mechanical ventilation than women who are not pregnant.
Additionally, they have a 25% higher risk of preterm birth than pregnant women in the general population.
The CDC team says more effort is needed to educate pregnant women about the risks and importance of seeking immediate medical attention if they experience any of these symptoms.
A new report by the CDC shows that pregnant women infected with COVID-19 are at risk of being inserted into the ICU and need about three times more ventilation than women who are not pregnant. In the photo: Nurse Janil Wise (left) prepares a COVID-19 test for patient Sarah Bodle, who is 31 weeks pregnant, at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, California, July 10
In the first report, the team looked at about 409,000 women 15 to 44 years old with symptoms of COVID-19 such as cough and fever.
Of these women, nearly 23,500 – 5.7% – were pregnant.
After adjusting for factors, such as race and availability, the researchers found that pregnant women were more likely to need special care.
About 10.5 per 1,000 pregnant women are admitted to the ICU, nearly three times the rate of non-pregnant women of 3.9 per 1,000 pregnant women.
Pregnant women have a 3 times higher risk of needing ventilation with 2.9 cases per 1,000 women compared with 1.1 per 1,000 cases in women who are not pregnant.
Pregnant mothers are also more likely to die, with around 1.5 deaths per 1,000 compared to 1.2 per 1,000 among non-pregnant women.
Results also show disparities in serious morbidity and mortality between racial and ethnic groups.
Pregnant Asian and Native Hawaiian / Pacific Island women were 2.4 times more likely to be admitted to the ICU, while Hispanic women were 2.4 times more likely to die.
Pregnant women are more susceptible to serious complications that can be attributed to physiological changes during pregnancy, such as increased heart rate and decreased lung capacity, researchers say.
Pregnant women and their families should be counseled about the risks of serious illness from COVID-19, the research team said.
‘To reduce the risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19, pregnant women should be counseled about the importance of seeking prompt medical attention if they have symptoms and preventive measures. prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infection should be emphasized to pregnant women and their families at all medical visits, including prenatal visits, ‘the authors write.
‘Understanding the risks associated with COVID-19 in pregnant women is important for preventive advice as well as clinical care and treatment.
In a second study, the CDC found that coronavirus-infected pregnant women were more likely to give birth prematurely.
For the report, the team looked at nearly 4,500 pregnant women diagnosed with the virus between March 29 and October 14.
Of the approximately 3,900 live births, 12.9% are premature – when a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
This is 25% higher than the 10.2% rate of full term births in the general population in 2019.
Babies born prematurely are at higher risk for respiratory problems, difficulty feeding and more susceptible to infections.
They are also at high risk of physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, cerebral palsy and vision problems.
Of the newborns tested for COVID-19, 2.6% were positive, most of whom had a mother diagnosed with infection one week before birth.
The authors write: ‘These data can help inform and advise people who are pregnant with COVID-19 about the potential risk to pregnancy and their newborn.
‘However, the risks associated with infection early in pregnancy and the long-term outcome for the newborn are still unclear.’