Health

Pregnant women with symptomatic COVID-19 have an increased risk of emergency deliveries

Pregnant women who contract symptomatic cases of COVID-19 are much more likely to suffer emergency complications or have babies who need intensive care, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, looked at more than 100 mothers-to-be who were diagnosed with the virus.

More than half of pregnant women who developed symptoms had emergency deliveries compared to about four in 10 women without symptoms. 

Additionally, babies born to symptomatic mothers were more likely to need respiratory support or be admitted to neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).

A new study from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, looked at 101 pregnant women diagnosed with COVID-19 of whom 31 had symptoms (file image) 

Symptomatic expectant mothers were more likely to have emergency deliveries or have babies who need oxygen support or be admitted to NICUs

Symptomatic expectant mothers were more likely to have emergency deliveries or have babies who need oxygen support or be admitted to NICUs

‘Given the evolving nature of COVID-19, it is critical for hospitals to share their experiences of how patients with COVID-19 are treated and how it affects patient outcomes,’ the authors wrote in a statement. 

‘We wanted to provide insight into a single institution’s experience on how labor and delivery may be affected by the virus as well as the baby’s condition after birth.’   

As of October 2, the latest day for which data is available, only 33.1 percent of pregnant people have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This is despite several studies finding that expecting mothers are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 compared to the general population.

And, once they do fall ill with the virus, they are more likely to develop severe cases or die from it.

One study from the University of Washington in Seattle found pregnant women infected with Covid were 3.5 times more likely to be hospitalized with complications and nearly 14 times more likely to die than younger Americans.

Expectant mothers who have COVID-19 also more likely to experience complications with their pregnancies.

Another study from the University of Oxford in the UK, found mothers-to-be had a 76 percent higher risk of developing preeclampsia – a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure – and 59 percent more likely to give birth prematurely.

Last month, the CDC encouraged pregnant women to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after previously saying pregnant women were just ‘eligible.’

For the new study, presented at the Anesthesiology 2021 annual meeting on Saturday, the team looked at 101 pregnant women between ages 18 and 45 who tested positive for COVID-19 between March 2020 and September 2020.

Nearly one-third of the pregnant women, 31, were symptomatic with symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle pain, chills and chest pain. 

Researchers found that symptomatic mothers-to-be were more likely to have emergency deliveries at 58.1 percent compared to 46.5 percent of asymptomatic mothers. 

The CDC urges pregnant women to get vaccinated because they are at an increased risk of severe disease and death due to COVID-19 but only 33.1% are vaccinated (dark blue line)

The CDC urges pregnant women to get vaccinated because they are at an increased risk of severe disease and death due to COVID-19 but only 33.1% are vaccinated (dark blue line)

This included babies being born in the breech position or with too little amniotic fluid. 

Additionally, babies born to women with Covid symptoms were more likely to need respiratory support at 31.2 percent compared to 29 percent for asymptomatic women.

And 43.8 percent of babies born to symptomatic women were admitted to NICUs in comparison with 36.2 percent of infants born to asymptomatic women. 

‘COVID-19 has severe systemic effects on the body, especially symptomatic patients,’ said co-author Kristine Lane, medical student at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, in a statement. 

‘It is possible that these effects are amplified in pregnant mothers, who have increased fetal and maternal oxygen demands.   

‘The decreased oxygenation could contribute to the increase in cesarean deliveries, as well as the possibility that physicians caring for symptomatic patients are cautious of the virus’ unpredictable nature, so they proactively recommend a cesarean delivery for medium- to high-risk deliveries.’   

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