19-year study reassures pregnant women but warns of higher risks later

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LONDON – Pregnant women no more likely to become seriously ill with COVID-19 than other women, preliminary study finds in Britain, but most pregnant women who develop serious illness tend to be in the latter stages of pregnancy.

The study looked at 427 pregnant women admitted to hospital with COVID-19, the lung disease caused by the new coronavirus, between March 1 and April 14. It found that less than 0.5% of all pregnant women were admitted to hospital with the disease and only about 1 in 10 people needed intensive care.

This suggests that expectant mothers are no more at risk for severe COVID-19 than the wider population, said research team led by the University of Oxford and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Great Britain. .

“(However) most pregnant women admitted to hospital have been pregnant for more than six months, which underscores the importance of continued social distancing in the later stages of pregnancy,” said Professor Marian Knight, Oxford maternal and child health. co-supervised the work.

The study, which was not peer-reviewed but published online Monday on the MedRxiv website, also found that pregnant women from ethnic minority groups and those who were overweight or had other health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, were more likely to require hospitalization.

“A very small number of pregnant women fall seriously ill with COVID-19 and unfortunately some women have died,” Knight said in a statement on the results of the study.

“It is worrying that more pregnant women from black and minority ethnic groups are admitted with COVID-19 during pregnancy and this requires urgent investigation.”

Analyzing the results for babies born to mothers with COVID-19, the researchers said they were “largely reassuring.”

Although almost one in five children was born prematurely and admitted to a neonatal unit, fewer than 20 babies in the study sample were born within 32 weeks of gestation, they said.

One in 20 children born to study mothers tested positive for COVID-19, but only half of these positive tests were immediately after birth. This suggests that the transmission of the infection from mother to baby is low, the researchers said. (Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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