In a global study of 2,100 pregnant women, those who contracted COVID-19 during pregnancy were 20 times more likely to die than those who did not contract the virus.
UW Medicine and doctors at the University of Oxford conducted this one-of-a-kind study, published today in Pediatrics JAMA. The survey involved more than 100 researchers and pregnant women from 43 maternity hospitals in 18 low, middle and high income countries; 220 of the women received care in the United States, 40 at UW Medicine. The research was conducted between April and August 2020.
The study is unique because each woman affected by COVID-19 was compared to two uninfected pregnant women who gave birth during the same period in the same hospital.
In addition to an increased risk of death, women and their newborns were also more likely to experience premature birth, preeclampsia, and ICU admission and / or intubation. Among mothers who tested positive for the disease, 11.5% of their babies also tested positive, according to the study.
Although other studies have looked at the effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women, it is the first study to have a concurrent control group with which to compare results, said Dr Michael Gravett, the one of the main authors of the study.
“The # 1 takeaway from research is that pregnant women are not more likely to contract COVID-19, but if they do, they are more likely to become very sick and more likely to require intensive care. , ventilation or prematurity and preeclampsia, ”he said. Gravett is Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Co-investigator, Dr Lavone Simmons is Acting Assistant Professor at UW of OB-GYN.
One caveat, Gravett noted, was that women with asymptomatic or mild COVID-19 did not have an increased risk of ICU care, preterm delivery, or preeclampsia. About 40% of the women in this study were asymptomatic. Pregnant women who were obese or had hypertension or diabetes were at the greatest risk of serious illness, according to the results.
Babies of women infected with COVID-19 were more likely to be born prematurely; but their infections were generally mild, according to the study. Breastfeeding did not appear to be linked to the transmission of the disease. However, cesarean delivery could be associated with an increased risk of having an infected newborn, according to the study.
Gravett suggested that these findings and parallel research forced U.S. states to decide to open vaccine eligibility to pregnant women – who were initially considered a low-risk population for severe COVID-19.
“I would strongly recommend that all pregnant women receive the COVID-19 vaccines,” based on this research, he said.
The study demonstrates the importance of rapidly collecting large-scale multinational data during a health crisis, Gravett said. The researchers were able to complete the investigation and report the results in just nine months, using the infrastructure already in place as part of the INTERGROWTH-21st project, which began in 2012 to study fetal growth and outcomes. neonatal.