The Pregnancy Coronavirus Results Registry began enrolling pregnant women across the country with a COVID-19 confirmed or suspected on March 24. underserved women at higher risk of mortality during pregnancy. The study will also look at transmission: whether a mother can transmit the infection to her child during pregnancy and childbirth or through breast milk.
“It was an urgent need that arose to gather information on pregnancy,” said Vanessa Jacoby, vice president of research in obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at UCSF. The goal, she says, is to publish the first results in the coming months. “We want the information to be available now while patients and providers are browsing these unknowns.”
And there are many unknowns.
Due to changes in the immune system, pregnant women are more susceptible to complications from respiratory diseases, said Jacoby.
“What we do know is from previous epidemics of influenza-like illness – the previous coronaviruses of SARS and MERS and H1N1 – that pregnant women have not resisted well,” she said.
The first reports from China on pregnant women with COVID-19 were reassuring. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics found that three of 33 infants born to mothers with COVID-19 were positive for the disease, but the three babies recovered and tested negative within a week.
“These data were very early and a very small number of women,” said Jacoby. “People in different health care settings can have different types of illness.”
The UCSF study aims to examine the impacts of the coronavirus on a more diverse population. The study is open to women across the United States 14 years of age or older who are pregnant or who have been in the past six weeks and tested positive for COVID-19 or suspected by a health care provider to have the virus.
Since this week, 163 women have enrolled in the study and hundreds more have expressed interest.
The study will also examine how the coronavirus affects pregnancy for black or African American women and underserved women who may have poorer outcomes due to disparities in health care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black or African American women are three times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications.
“Presumably, health disparities do not disappear in a global pandemic,” said Jacoby. “They are likely to continue, and the concern is that they may worsen. “
Jacoby added, “We need answers right now, and the only way to get answers is to do a large-scale national study. “
Sarah Feldberg is the Assistant Features Writer at the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]