Newswise – COVID-19 infection in pregnancy is not associated with stillbirth or early neonatal death, according to a new study.
However, the study, of more than 4,000 pregnant women with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, also found that women who had a positive test were more likely to have a premature birth.
The study, led by scientists from Imperial College London and published in the journal Ultrasound in obstetrics and gynecology, used data from the United Kingdom and the US.
The study team looked at data from 4004 pregnant women who had suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Of these women, 1606 were from the United Kingdom, from a data registry called PAN-COVID, while 2398 were from the US, from the American Academy of Pediatrics SONPM data registry.
PAN-COVID was funded by the Medical Research Council, UK National Institute for Health Research and the NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Center.
All women born between January-August 2020.
The study found that no babies died in the COVID-19 study. There was also no increase in the risk of death or low birth weight.
However, both UK and US data suggested a higher risk of pre-term birth (defined as birth at 37 weeks).
In the UK data, 12 per cent of women with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 had a preliminary delivery – 60 per cent higher than the national average rate of 7.5 per cent. In the U.S. data, 15.7 percent of women had a premature birth, 57 percent higher than the U.S. national average of 10 percent.
The study team says part of this association may be due to doctors deciding to deliver the baby early because of concerns about the effect of COVID-19 infection on mother and baby. The rate of spontaneous preterm birth was lower than expected.
Professor Christoph Lees, senior author of Imperial’s Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction Studies, said: “The finding that COVID-19 infection does not increase the risk of stillbirth or infant death is reassuring. A suspected or confirmed COVID – however, 19 diagnoses were linked to a higher risk of premature birth, and it is not entirely clear why. “
Dr Ed Mullins, co-author of Imperial’s Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction, added: “This study supports the prioritization of vaccination for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, and existing measures that protect women during pregnancy against infection, to reduce premature birth. “
The proportion of babies born to mothers with confirmed COVID-19, who subsequently tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus (which causes COVID-19), was 2 percent in the UK study, and 1.8 percent in the American study,
The majority of the women in the study did not have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or a respiratory condition such as asthma.
In the UK study, eight of the women died, while four women died in the US study.
The study team says that although these death rates are higher than expected for women who give birth, they are similar to the expected death rates seen among adults with a confirmed COVID-19 infection. This suggests that pregnant women do not have a higher risk of COVID-19 death than non-pregnant women.
Among women in the UK arm of the study, 66.5 per cent were European as well as North American, 1.9 per cent were Middle Eastern, 1.1 per cent were North African, 4.2 per cent were African south of the Sahara or Caribbean, 7.5 percent was from the Indian subcontinent, and 9.2 percent was Southeast Asian. Among the American poor of the study, 37 percent were white, 25 percent were Black as African, 4.1 percent were Asian, 0.4 percent were American Indian or Indian Alaska.
Professor Fiona Watt, executive chair of the Medical Research Council, which helped fund the study, said: “It is obviously critical to understand how COVID-19 affects different groups of people. We are proud to have the current studies have funded in which over the past year researchers have monitored the health of a substantial number of pregnant women and their babies.The findings of the study, that there is no increased risk of death and premature neonatal death in women who “COVID-19s obtained while pregnant are reassuring.” The study highlights the need for more research to determine if, or how, COVID-19 affects maternal outcomes or premature births. “
The SONPM data entry from the American Academy of Pediatrics was led by Professor Mark Hudak.
The Center for Trials Research at Cardiff University was responsible for building the online database, data management and statistical analyzes. Julia Townson, senior research fellow and co-author of Cardiff University, said: “I am delighted that the Center for Trials Research at Cardiff University has been able to partner with Imperial College London on this important research. It has a mammoth enterprise by the team, which requires a rapid build-up of the database and website, as well as cleaning and analyzing the data. “