Pregnant women who develop severe COVID-19 infections requiring hospitalization for pneumonia and other complications may not be more likely to die from these infections than non-pregnant women. In fact, they can have significantly lower death rates than their non-pregnant counterparts. This is the conclusion of a new study published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM).
The study examined the medical records of nearly 1,100 pregnant women and more than 9,800 non-pregnant patients aged 15 to 45 who were hospitalized for COVID-19 and pneumonia. Just under 1% of pregnant patients died from COVID-19 compared to 3.5% of non-pregnant patients, according to study results.
There are, however, a few important caveats to the study data in terms of the differences between the two populations. Pregnant patients were more likely to be younger and have fewer health problems, including diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and chronic lung disease, compared to non-pregnant patients. Given the small number of deaths seen in the study, the researchers were unable to control for these differences to determine whether they significantly affected the risk of death.
“I think this is reassuring news for women who are pregnant and worried about being infected with COVID-19 as new variants emerge,” said corresponding study author Anthony Harris, MD, MPH, professor of epidemiology and public health at UMSOM. “While the study does not tell us for sure that pregnancy does not pose additional risks to women, the data certainly points in that direction.”
Researchers from the Health Science Center at the University of Texas at Houston also participated in this study. UMSOM professors who were co-authors of this study include Katherine Goodman, JD, PhD, Lisa Pineles, MA, Lyndsay O’Hara, PhD, Gita Nadimpalli, MD, MPH, Laurence Magder, PhD, and Jonathan Baghdadi, MD, PhD.
“I am very happy that we are able to provide reassuring news to pregnant women who have faced an additional burden during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, and Distinguished Professor John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers and Dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “This is an important study that adds to our knowledge of the COVID-19 pandemic at a critical time.”
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Material provided by University of Maryland School of Medicine. Original written by Deborah Kotz. Note: Content can be changed for style and length.