Covid-19 and pregnancy: for the first time, scientists have real data on the risks of mom and baby

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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A study revealed that Covid-19 is associated with a higher risk of serious maternal and neonatal complications.

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A study of more than 2.100 pregnant women in 18 countries around the world revealed that Covid-19 is associated with a higher risk of serious maternal and neonatal complications than previously recognized.





They are researchers from the Nuffield Dept of Women's & Reproductive Health at the University of Oxford, reporting the results of the INTERCOVID study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics and providing for the first time detailed comparative information on the effects of coronavirus infection in pregnancy.

Read also: Coronavirus in pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. Everything you need to know

In the paper, they conclude that the risk to mothers and children is greater than recognized at the start of the pandemic and that priority health measures should include pregnant women.

"Women with Covid-19 during pregnancy were over 50% more likely to have complications during gestation (such as premature birth, pre-eclampsia, ICU admission and death) than pregnant women without Covid -19 ”, explains Aris Papageorghiou, Professor of Fetal Medicine at Oxford.

Infants of infected women were also nearly three times more at risk for serious medical complications, such as admission to the neonatal intensive care unit, mainly due to premature birth. The good news, however, is that the risks in infected women without symptoms and in uninfected women were similar.

Researchers sought to understand the effects of Covid-19 in pregnancy by collecting reliable data on pregnant women with and without a covid diagnosis. The study involved over 2.100 pregnant women from 43 maternity hospitals in 18 low, middle and high-income countries around the world.

The study is unique because each woman with Covid-19 was compared with two uninfected pregnant women who were giving birth at the same time in the same hospital.

“Fortunately, there have been very few deaths. However, the risk of dying during pregnancy and in the postnatal period was 22 times higher in women with Covid-19 than in uninfected pregnant women, ”says Papageorghiou.



The study also found that nearly 10% of infants of mothers who tested positive for the virus also tested positive during the first postnatal days.

What about breastfeeding?

No fear! José Villar, professor of perinatal medicine specifies that it is "important to underline that breastfeeding does not appear to be related to this increase".

“We now know that the risks to mothers and babies are greater than we assumed at the start of the pandemic and that known health measures must include pregnant women. The information should help families, as it is now clear the need to do everything possible to avoid becoming infected. It also strengthens the reason for offering vaccination to all pregnant women, ”the experts conclude.


In short, no fear is the strict need not to let your guard down yet!


Sources: JAMA Network / Oxford University

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