When pregnant women contract COVID-19, one in 10 will have moderate, severe or even critical symptoms, a new study finds.
So it’s important they get their COVID vaccines, experts say.
“Given that patients in all trimesters of pregnancy are susceptible to infection and severe respiratory illness from COVID-19, these findings add urgency to the need for vaccination of all pregnant individuals,” said study co-author Dr. Rachel Schell. She’s an assistant instructor in obstetrics and gynecology at UT Southwestern in Dallas.
An estimated 182,000 pregnant women have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the United States during the pandemic to this point. Past research has shown they have an increased risk of severe and critical disease compared to people who are not pregnant.
For this study, researchers collected data on just over 1,300 patients who had tested positive at some point during their pregnancy and then delivered babies between March 2020 and September 2021 at Parkland Health in Dallas.
About 8% of these women tested positive while in their first trimesters, 27% in the second and 65% during the third trimester.
About 10% of the patients who had been asymptomatic developed symptoms, and 10% of those infected had moderate, severe or critical symptoms.
There was no statistically significant difference in symptoms related to the stage of pregnancy, the researchers said.
“In the rapidly evolving landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic, this study provides information regarding the natural course of COVID-19 infection in pregnancy,” Schell said in a university news release. “This may be useful for clinicians to effectively counsel patients and direct care.”
The study found no increased risk of adverse outcomes, such as stillbirths, among babies or their mothers who were infected with COVID. The researchers in this study could not analyze potential associations between outcomes and severity of COVID-19 symptoms.
The findings were published Nov. 22 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology MFM.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19 in pregnancy.
Rachel C. Schell et al, Examining the impact of trimester of diagnosis on COVID-19 disease progression in pregnancy, American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology MFM (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.ajogmf.2022.100728
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