Pregnant women infected with COVID-19 are far more likely to require intensive care or die in childbirth compared to pregnant women who do not catch the virus, a new study finds.
Researchers at the Université de Paris studied Covid’s impacts on more than 200,000 pregnant women in France during the first wave of the pandemic, from January to June 2020.
Mothers-to-be with Covid were 40 times as likely to die during childbirth compared to those who weren’t infected with the virus.
The Covid patients were also more likely to experience pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia, gestational hypertension and hemorrhages, or end up in ICUs.
The researchers encourage pregnant women to get vaccinated in order to protect them against severe Covid outcomes.
Despite these risks, only 35 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. were fully vaccinated as of November 20, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Pregnant women infected with Covid face a much higher risk of being admitted to an ICU or dying, a new study finds. Pictured: A mother-to-be receives a Pfizer booster shot in Los Angeles, California, November 2021
More than 147,000 pregnant people have been infected with Covid in the U.S. between January 2020 and November 22, 2021, according to CDC data
Pregnant women are at high risk for severe Covid symptoms, numerous studies have shown in the past year.
Upon contracting the coronavirus, mothers-to-be face increased risks of requiring hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator.
These patients also face higher rates of stillbirth, preterm birth and C-sections.
SARS and MERS, two coronaviruses that caused outbreaks earlier in the 21st century, also had negative impacts on maternal and infant outcomes.
According to the CDC, more than 147,000 pregnant women in the U.S. have been infected with Covid between January 2020 and November 22, 2021.
Of those patients, 25,000 have been hospitalized and 240 have died.
A new study specifically examines how Covid impacts pregnancy complications, as well as maternal mortality
For the study, published on Tuesday in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine, researchers at the Université de Paris used France’s National Health Data System to analyze anonymous health records from all pregnant women hospitalized in the country during the first wave of the pandemic.
In total, the analysis included more than 245,000 births between January and June 2020.
Of those mothers-to-be, 874 (or 0.36 percent) had a Covid diagnosis at the time they gave birth.
By comparing pregnancy outcomes between pregnant women who did and did not have Covid diagnoses, the researchers found that pregnant women were at much higher risk.
‘When compared to the non-Covid group, women in the Covid group were associated to an increased frequency of admission to ICU, mortality, preeclampsia/eclampsia, gestational hypertension, postpartum hemorrhage, spontaneous and induced preterm and very preterm birth, fetal distress and Cesarean section,’ the researchers said in a statement.
Among pregnant women in the U.S. who have been hospitalized with Covid, more than 600 have been admitted to the ICU and 130 have required invasive ventilation
Hospitalization in an intensive care unit was much more common among pregnant women with Covid.
About 5.9 percent of the pregnant patients with Covid required intensive care – 59 times the rate for patients who didn’t have Covid, 0.1 percent.
Pregnant Covid patients were also more likely to die during their hospital stays, compared to non-Covid patients.
The death rate for Covid patients was 0.2 percent, about 40 times higher the rate for non-Covid patients, 0.005 percent.
The Covid patients tended to be older, and were more likely to have obesity and other common Covid risk factors.
Covid patients were twice as likely to experience preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication involving high blood pressure and damage to the liver and kidneys.
These patients were also almost twice as likely to experience gestational hypertension, another form of high blood pressure, and hydramnios, a condition in which amniotic fluid builds up around the fetus.
The Covid patients were 2.5 times as likely to experience a preterm birth compared to pregnant women without Covid, and 1.8 times as likely to require a C-section.
In addition, the Covid patients were more likely to experience hemorrhages, or severe blood loss, both during (2.9 times) and after (1.7 times) giving birth.
Pregnant women with Covid were much more likely to experience high blood pressure, preterm birth, C-sections, and hemorrhages compared to those without Covid (file image)
There was no significant difference in pregnancy terminations or stillbirths between the Covid and non-Covid groups.
This study clearly indicates that, not only are pregnant women at increased risk for severe Covid, but Covid is also associated with increased risk of several pregnancy complications.
While these results align with previous studies, the researchers caution that their data do not necessarily indicate Covid causes these complications.
Another limitation of the study is the small number of pregnant women with Covid that it included, relative to the overall number of pregnant women in France.
The researchers noted that some women with asymptomatic Covid may not have been identified during the pandemic’s early months, and thus were left out of the study.
Still, the researchers encourage pregnant women to get vaccinated in order to gain protection against potential risks to their pregnancies.
About 35% of pregnant people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated against Covid as of November 20
Vaccination rates among pregnant people are higher for Asians and lower for black and Hispanic Americans, according to the CDC
In the U.S., about 35 percent of pregnant people are fully vaccinated as of November 20, according to the CDC.
This includes both people who got vaccinated before and during their pregnancies.
This rate is higher for Asian mothers-to-be – about 50 percent – and lower for black and Hispanic women – 22 percent and 32 percent, respectively.
Many pregnant people in the U.S. have hesitated to get vaccinated, even though the vaccines are safe and highly recommended for this group.
According to the CDC, just 24 percent of pregnant people received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine during their pregnancies.