COVID-19 and Pregnancy

New study links the disease to serious health complications during pregnancy

Pregnant individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 are about 40 percent more likely to develop serious complications or die during pregnancy than those who aren’t infected with the virus, according to a nationwide study led by a University of Utah Health obstetrician.

The researchers concluded that the severity of COVID-19 symptoms is a key indicator of a heightened risk of pregnancy complications. This was particularly evident among the most severely ill people, who were three times more likely to develop pregnancy complications than those who tested negative or who were less affected by the disease.

“We already knew that pregnant people are at higher risk for the complications of COVID-19 itself,” says maternal-fetal medicine specialist Torri D. Metz MS’12, who led the multi-center effort. “Our research is among the first to find that infection with SARS-CoV-2 can elevate the risk of serious consequences related to the progression of common pregnancy complications such as developing high blood pressure, having postpartum bleeding, or acquiring an infection other than SARS. This is why we need to make sure pregnant individuals are vaccinated.”

The researchers analyzed electronic medical records of 14,104 pregnant people treated at 17 medical centers nationwide. About 2,350 of these people tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 during pregnancy or within six weeks of delivery. More than 13 percent of those who tested positive developed pregnancy complications during the study compared to 9 percent of those who tested negative. Complications were more prevalent with moderate to severe COVID-19, and premature birth was more likely in infected individuals. And all five of the study’s maternal deaths occurred in the SARS-CoV-2 positive group.

Read more about the study from U of U Health.


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