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COVID significantly increases risk of ICU admission and death among pregnant women, new study finds

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Research published in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine on November 30th shows that pregnant women and have COVID-19 are more likely to face problems during pregnancy and birth.

As the study focuses on the first six months of pandemic hospitalizations in France, it suggests that immunization may be beneficial for protecting mothers and their babies, especially those who are at higher risk of getting severe COVID-19 infections.

During the initial phase of research in early 2020, few papers have examined the possible link between COVID-19 and pregnancy outcomes. Researchers from the Universite de Paris, led by Sylvie Epelboin, examined hospitalization records for women who gave birth after 22 weeks of pregnancy in France between January and June of 2020 for possible causes of preterm delivery.

Hospitalization was required for all proven cases of COVID prior to March 15, but after this date, admission was based solely on the patient’s medical condition. COVID-19 was detected in 874 of the 244,465 women who gave birth in the hospital, or 0.36 percent of the total.

The authors said: “We conducted a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data in a national cohort of all hospitalizations for births ≥22 weeks of gestation occurring in France from January to June 2020 using the French National hospitalization database, including a total of 244645 births, of which 874 (0.36%) with COVID-19 diagnosis.”

These women were more likely to be older, obese, pregnant with multiple children, or to have a history of high blood pressure than those in the COVID-19 group.

The study found that COVID-19-positive pregnant women had a greater rate of ICU hospitalization, mortality, preeclampsia and eclampsia, gestational hypertension, bleeding before or after birth, very early spontaneous or induced birth, and cesarean section.

The authors added: “When compared to the non-COVID-19 group, women in the COVID-19 group were associated to an increased frequency of admission to ICU, mortality, preeclampsia/eclampsia, gestational hypertension, postpartum hemorrhage, spontaneous and induced preterm and very preterm birth, fetal distress and Cesarean section.”

There was no increase in the number of pregnancy terminations, stillbirths, gestational diabetes, placenta previa, placental abruption, or blood clots.

It is critical for health care practitioners to be aware of these issues in order to support pregnant women and give the best care possible. Although causality could not be shown in this study, the authors feel that immunization to protect pregnant women from COVID-19 could be beneficial, especially for those in higher-risk groups.

Source: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003857

Image Credit: Getty

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