NIH study finds severe COVID-19 during pregnancy increases risk of complications

NIH study finds severe COVID-19 during pregnancy increases risk of complications

February 3, 2021

Pregnant women who experience severe symptoms of COVID-19 appear to have an elevated risk of complications during and after pregnancy, according to preliminary findings from a National Institutes of Health study presented on January 28 at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s virtual annual meeting.

Compared to COVID-19 patients without symptoms, those with severe symptoms were at higher risk for cesarean delivery, postpartum hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and preterm birth.

The findings come from the Gestational Research Assessments for COVID-19 (GRAVID) study conducted by investigators in the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU) Network, a group of U.S. clinical centers funded by NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The study was led by Torri Metz, MD, of University of Utah Health, Salt Lake City, and Rebecca Clifton, PhD, of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

The researchers evaluated more than 1,200 pregnant women with COVID-19 who delivered at 33 U.S. hospitals between March 1 and July 30, 2020. Roughly half of the women (47%) were asymptomatic, 27% had mild symptoms, 14% had moderate symptoms, 8% had severe symptoms and 4% were critically ill. Those with more severe symptoms tended to be older, with a higher than average body mass index and underlying health issues, such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension, liver disease and seizure disorder.

Researchers attributed four maternal deaths to COVID-19. Transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from mother to child was rare, with 1% of newborns testing positive for the virus before discharge from the hospital.

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