Recently, a new study conducted by a collaborative team of researchers from different institutions including the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the University of Oxford, Kings and Imperial Colleges London, and Universities of Leeds and Birmingham has looked at the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women and concluded that they are at an equally high risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2.
Previously, a number of researchers and health experts had stated their concerns regarding the danger of the coronavirus infection for women who are planning on conceiving or have conceived.
The findings of the new study, published today in the form of a pre-print showed that pregnancy does not put women at a higher risk of having COVID-19 even though it may increase the related complications during the time period or at birth.
Read the preprint here.
The researchers reached this conclusion after examining around four hundred and twenty-seven pregnant women who were admitted to hospitals in the UK between the start of March to the mid of April. All of these women had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
According to the findings, only 4.9 out of 1000 pregnant women are likely to have coronavirus infection which suggests they are not at a higher risk than other women.
During the analysis of pregnant women, the team also discovered that pregnant women belonging to minority ethnic groups had a comparatively higher chance of having the coronavirus infection and being in the hospital for it.
These inequalities remained even when looked at women from different hospitals and regions of England which highlighted that they are not due to higher rates of COVID-19 in their residential areas.
Furthermore, pregnant women who already had health conditions such as diabetes, as well as those who were overweight or obese, also had a higher risk of having the coronavirus infection.
Although many of the babies born during the study period needed immediate hospitalization and extra care, the majority of them survived with good health and were discharged soon. In a number of cases, the births were also premature.
One in twenty of the babies were diagnosed with COVID-19. However, the number of babies who tested positive right after birth was low.
The leading author of the study, Professor Marian Knight, who is also the Professor of Maternal and Child Population Health at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford states that while pregnancy does not raise chances of catching SARS-CoV-2, preventive measures are still required.
In fact, pregnant women should be more careful and practice social distancing especially after they have entered their third trimester.
On the other hand, the President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and one of the authors of the study, Edward Morris, added that pregnant women with underlying health conditions should be aware of how they might put them at a higher risk of COVID-19.
Health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity also put men and women in general at a higher risk of the infection. Therefore, while being pregnant, women should be even more cautious and take additional preventive steps.
The authors concluded the paper by saying that women should not delay their appointments with their doctors for ensuring good health for themselves and the baby. Following guidelines can effectively help in a healthy pregnancy and prevention of COVID-19.