According to latest findings, COVID-19 is less likely to show symptoms in pregnant women as compared to non-pregnant, but more likely to need extensive care if severely ill.
The new research findings published in the BMJ highlight the risks of COVID for pregnant women and their babies. It says that pregnant women seen at the hospital with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are less likely to experience a fever or muscle pain. However if they develop severe disease they are more likely to need intensive care than non pregnant women with COViD-19.
These results are based on a ‘living systematic review’; ongoing, global, research which is collecting and synthesising data on the situation for pregnant women with COVID-19 in countries worldwide. It has been led by researchers at the University of Birmingham, UK, the World Health Organization, and the Special Programme HRP alongside other collaborators.
Pre-existing medical conditions
Currently evidence suggests that people who are non-white, are older, who are overweight and/or have a pre-existing medical condition, are more vulnerable to severe disease due to COVID-19. According to the latest findings of this review, pregnant women with COVID-19, who have pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes or chronic high blood pressure, or those who are non-white, older or overweight, are also more likely to suffer severe health complications due to COVID-19.
Risks for newborn babies and women
Pregnant women with COVID-19 were also more likely to give birth prematurely. The findings also show that 1 in 4 of all babies born to women with COVID-19, were admitted to a neonatal unit but data on causes of preterm births or indications for admission to neonatal units among these babies is lacking. Stillbirth and newborn death rates however were low.
The research findings show that pregnant or recently pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit or need respiratory support when compared with non-pregnant women of reproductive age.
Implications for healthcare
It is important healthcare providers are aware that pregnant women with COVID-19 and their newborn babies may be more likely to need specialist care, and that women and their babies have access to this care. This is particularly true for pregnant women with COVID-19 alongside other co-morbidities or risk factors.
In addition it is crucial to stress that whether or not a woman has COVID-19, her right to a positive pregnancy and childbirth experience must be ensured.
It is also important to recognise the increased stress and anxiety caused by COVID-19 which may be particularly felt by pregnant women, recently-pregnant women, and their partners, children, and families; healthcare providers have a role in responding to pregnant women in an appropriate and compassionate way.
Source – WHO