National study explores COVID-19's link to pregnancy complications: 5 findings

A study of more than 13,000 pregnant people from 17 U.S. hospitals found those with moderate to severe COVID-19 are more likely to experience pregnancy complications, according to findings published Feb. 7 in JAMA

The study involved about 2,400 pregnant women infected with COVID-19 who delivered between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, before COVID-19 vaccines were available. The research team, led by Torri Metz, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, compared outcomes between infected and uninfected patients. The primary outcome was defined as whether the patient had died from any cause or had a serious illness or condition related to common obstetric complications, as well as several secondary outcomes. 

Five findings: 

1. Those with moderate to severe COVID-19 were more likely to experience the primary outcome (26.1 percent), compared to uninfected patients (9.2 percent). 

2. Infected pregnant patients were also more likely to deliver by cesarean (45.4 percent), compared to noninfected women (32.4 percent). 

3. Nearly 27 percent of moderately to severely infected pregnant patients had a preterm birth, compared to 14.1 percent of uninfected patients. 

4. Infected patients were more likely to have a fetal or newborn death, at 3.4 percent, compared to 1.8 percent of uninfected people. 

5. Mild or asymptomatic infection from COVID-19 was not associated with increased pregnancy risks. 

"The findings underscore the need for women of child-bearing age and pregnant individuals to be vaccinated and to take other precautions against becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2," said Diana Bianchi, MD, director of the National Institutes of Health's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which funded the study. "This is the best way to protect pregnant women and their babies."


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