SALT LAKE CITY — Pregnant women who developed severe symptoms of COVID-19 were at higher risk of pregnancy complications and even death compared to women who experienced no symptoms, or mild or moderate symptoms, according to a new study led by a University of Utah researcher.
The study was released Friday, in time to be presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s annual meeting. Dr. Torri Metz, an associate professor and maternal-fetal medicine subspecialist at University of Utah Health, was the study’s lead author.
The study centered around a group of more than 1,200 pregnant women at 33 hospitals across 14 states, with data pulled from March 1 through July 31, 2020. In all, nearly half were asymptomatic, while 27% reported mild symptoms and 14% experienced moderate symptoms. Another 8% experienced severe symptoms and 4% experienced critical symptoms.
The death rate from the study of COVID-19 in women was 0.3%, which would equate to 3 deaths per 1,000 or 300 per 100,000. The last known rate of 17.4 deaths per 100,000 in pregnant women without COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This is much higher than would be expected at baseline and it’s certainly concerning,” Metz said. “In pregnancy, we’re seeing the same thing that we’re seeing in non-pregnant people in that there are increased death rates over this time period.”
Those who tended to experience worse symptoms were older, had higher body mass index, and were more likely to have underlying health conditions like asthma, diabetes or high blood pressure, according to the study.
The women more likely to suffer severe outcomes from the coronavirus were more likely to die or have serious complications like preterm birth, postpartum hemorrhage or heavy bleeding after childbirth, high blood pressure during pregnancy, or have a cesarean delivery.
Metz said the study could be viewed as reassuring for women who experience mild or moderate COVID-19 symptoms, which was the majority of those who experienced any symptoms. That said, there is no way of knowing someone’s outcome in advance.
“When people get COVID-19, we don’t know how severe it will be and we don’t have a way to prevent it from becoming severe,” she said. “So I think it’s still really important for patients who are pregnant to minimize exposures and wear a mask at all times.”
This story will be updated.
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