Story at a glance

  • Some 55 percent of pregnant patients with COVID-19 were asymptomatic at hospital admission, while about 45.4 percent being symptomatic.
  • While 87.4 percent of births were at full term, 12.6 percent were delivered early (more than the 10 percent average).

Pregnant women who test positive for COVID-19 may be at an increased risk for adverse outcomes like preterm birth and stillbirth, according to research conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

An observational study of 598 pregnant women who were hospitalized with COVID-19 infections from March 1 to Aug. 22 featured data from 13 states within the CDC’s COVID surveillance network and examined the conditions of pregnant women entering hospitals with the coronavirus.

It notably found that 55 percent of pregnant patients with COVID-19 were asymptomatic at hospital admission, with about 45.4 percent being symptomatic. 

Of the 272 symptomatic pregnant women hospitalized, 44, or 16.2 percent, were admitted to intensive care units, with 23 of those patients, amounting to 8.5 percent, requiring medical ventilation. Almost 1 percent of these women died during hospitalization. Women in the third trimester of pregnancy were found more likely to be symptomatic, composing the majority of hospitalizations.


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By the time patients were discharged from hospitals, 458, or approximately 76.6 percent, had delivered to full term. The vast majority, 97.8 percent, resulted in live births, with the remaining 10, or 2.2 percent, resulting in losses. The report defines a pregnancy loss as including spontaneous abortion or miscarriage, therapeutic abortion or stillbirth.

Four of the pregnancy losses occurred under a 20-week gestational period, and five at 20 weeks or more. One remaining pregnancy loss occurred at an unknown gestational age. Researchers note that among pregnancies resulting in live birth, two newborns died during the birth hospitalizations. They were both born to mothers who exhibited coronavirus symptoms and required invasive medical ventilation.

While 87.4 percent of births were at full term, 12.6 percent were delivered early. The rate of preterm births among pregnant women hospitalized for COVID-19 infections stood higher than the 10 percent national average observed in the general U.S. population in 2018. Researchers similarly found that the study saw preterm births occur approximately three times more frequently in symptomatic patients than those who were asymptomatic.

The study only recorded medically attended pregnancy losses, and states that it likely underestimated the percentage of pregnancy losses occurring in women with COVID-19 infections. 

“The proportion of hospitalized women aged 15–49 years with COVID-19 who were pregnant in this study (26.5%) suggests that pregnant women have disproportionately higher rates of COVID-19–associated hospitalizations compared to nonpregnant women,” the authors write.

The study acknowledges that pregnant women with coronavirus infections may be disproportionately accounted for in the study due to being tested while admitted for delivery. Pregnant women also show a higher likelihood of being screened for potential COVID-19 infections. 


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Published on Sep 24, 2020