Pregnant women with COVID at increased risk of hospitalizations: UBC study


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There’s also a link between COVID-19 infection and the risk of pre-term birth, even in mild cases that do not require hospitalization.

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May 02, 2022  •  10 minutes ago  •  2 minute read  •  Join the conversation Researchers at the University of British Columbia urge pregnant women to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after a study found a COVID-19 infection during pregnancy leads to an increased risk of complications. Researchers at the University of British Columbia urge pregnant women to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after a study found a COVID-19 infection during pregnancy leads to an increased risk of complications. Photo by RODRIGO GARRIDO /REUTERS

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People who catch COVID-19 during pregnancy were at increased risk of complications that could affect their pregnancy and their baby, a newly published national study found.

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The study by researchers at the University of B.C. examined 6,012 pregnancies between March 2020 and October 2021 where the mother-to-be had COVID and found these pregnancies to be at increased risk of hospitalization, admission to intensive care and pre-term births.

UBC obstetrics and gynaecology Prof. Dr. Deborah Money launched the CANCOVID-Preg surveillance research program with other Canadian researchers in March 2020, during the onset of the pandemic and in a vacuum of information on the impact of the novel coronavirus on pregnancy.

“We started accumulating data and it quickly became clear that we were seeing an increase in complications among pregnant women who contracted COVID-19,” said Money in a statement.

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The study, published Monday in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association, found that out of the 6,012 pregnancies, 466 cases, or nearly eight per cent, required hospitalization, while 121 cases, or two per cent, were severe enough to require admission to intensive care.

“Overall, people who are pregnant are 2.65 times more likely to require hospitalization and 5.46 times more likely to be admitted to ICU than non-pregnant individuals,” said lead author Dr. Elisabeth McClymont.

The risk increased with age, pre-existing high blood pressure and how far along the women were in their pregnancy at the time of diagnosis. Most cases of infection occurred among pregnant people who weren’t vaccinated, noted the study.

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Researchers also found a link between COVID infection and the risk of pre-term birth, defined as before 37 weeks of pregnancy, even in mild cases that don’t require hospitalization.

The study found that the rate of pre-term birth was 11 per cent among pregnancies with COVID, compared with 6.8 per cent among unaffected pregnancies.

Pre-term birth can have long-lasting results on the impact, said McClymont. The university said researchers plan to examine infants born to mothers with COVID to see if there are short- and long-term effects on the infants.

The findings suggest pregnant women should remain vigilant, even as public health restrictions ease.

“It is important that pregnant people consider the increased risk and take appropriate steps to protect themselves and their infant by getting vaccinated, getting boosted and avoiding exposure to COVID-19 where possible,” said Money.

The authors, however, caution that the study analyzed cases before the identification of the Omicron variant in Canada and results might not be “generalizable” to Omicron infections.

More to come …

chchan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/cherylchan

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