One in seven pregnant women in New York are infected with coronavirus, small study reveals – but almost all of them had NO symptoms of the deadly infection
- Doctors screened 215 women about to give birth in New York City
- A total of 33 women tested positive. Only four showed symptoms of the virus
- The findings underscore the importance for mass testing to find asymptomatics
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
Almost one in seven pregnant women in New York City screened for coronavirus test positive, a small study suggests.
Researchers tested 215 mothers-to-be for the COVID-19 disease when they were admitted to hospital to give birth.
A total of 33 patients tested positive, 29 of whom didn’t have symptoms indicative of the coronavirus, such as a persistent cough or fever.
The risk of COVID-19 to pregnant women and their babies has not yet been established, but they appear to only have mild symptoms.
One in seven pregnant women screened for the coronavirus in New York City tested positive
Of the 33 patients who tested positive, 29 of them had no symptoms, suggesting they never knew they had the virus. Pictured, a mother-to-be in Bogota wears a face mask
The study took place at NewYork-Presbyterian and Columbia University Medical Center between March 22 and April 4, the New York Post reports.
Of 215 women, four (1.9 per cent) had fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 on admission. They all tested positive for the virus.
Swabs were taken from 210 of the remaining 211 women (99.5 per cent) who did not have symptoms. Of these, 29 (13.7 per cent) were positive.
Therefore, 29 of the 33 patients who were positive for SARS-CoV-2 at admission (87.9 per cent) were ‘silent carriers’ of the virus.
It means they never knew they had the virus until they received their test results.
Three of the 29 who did not have symptoms developed a fever around two days after they gave birth.
One patient with a swab that was negative for SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, developed symptoms after birth.
She had been tested again three days after the initial test, according to the findings published in the New England Medical Journal.
The findings underscore the importance of screening masses of people to look for those who have had the virus without realising.
The doctors also warned the true prevalence of infection may be underreported because of false-negative results of tests to detect SARS-CoV-2.
‘The potential benefits of a universal testing approach include the ability to use COVID-19 status to determine hospital isolation practices and bed assignments, inform neonatal care, and guide the use of personal protective equipment,’ Dr Desmond Sutton and colleagues wrote.
‘Access to such clinical data provides an important opportunity to protect mothers, babies, and health care teams during these challenging times.’
An obstetrical patient was first diagnosed with COVID-19 at Columbia University Irving Medical Center on March 13.
There were also two cases where women had no symptoms, but developed them after giving birth.
It was at this point that the hospital implemented a policy to swab any pregnant woman coming in to give birth.
The doctors said pregnant women pose a ‘unique challenge’ in the pandemic, because need to visit the hospital so often – where the coronavirus may be spreading.