Pregnant women face increased Covid risks

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US health officials on Monday added pregnancy to the list of conditions that put people with Covid-19 at an increased risk of developing serious illness, including an increased risk of death.

While most pregnant women infected with the coronavirus did not become seriously ill, the new warning is based on a large study that looked at tens of thousands of pregnant women who had symptoms of Covid-19.

The study found they were much more likely to require intensive care, be hooked up to specialist heart-lung bypass surgery and require mechanical ventilation than non-pregnant women of the same age who had symptoms of Covid. More importantly, pregnant women had a 70% increased risk of death compared to symptomatic non-pregnant women.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, the largest study of its kind to date, looked at the results of 409,462 symptomatic women aged 15 to 44 who tested positive for coronavirus, of whom 23,434 were pregnant.

“We are now saying that pregnant women are at an increased risk of serious illness. Previously, we said they ‘may’ be at increased risk of serious illness,” said CDC health scientist Sascha Ellington, one of the authors of the new study.

Still, Dr Ellington stressed that the overall risk of complications and death was low.

“The absolute risk of these serious consequences is low in women aged 15 to 44, regardless of pregnancy status, but what we are seeing is an increased risk associated with pregnancy,” he said. she stated.

Dr. Denise Jamieson, chair of gynecology and obstetrics at Emory University School of Medicine, said the new data underscores the importance for pregnant women to take extra precautions to avoid exposure to the virus, including avoiding social gatherings and interactions with people – even members of their own households – who may have been exposed or become infected.

“This is new information that adds to the growing body of evidence and really highlights the importance of pregnant women protecting themselves from Covid,” Dr Jamieson said. “It’s important that they wear a mask and avoid people who don’t wear a mask.”

But, she said, women shouldn’t skip antenatal care visits and should get the vaccines they need, such as flu shots, and noted that the study says pregnant women should have access to a safe and effective Covid vaccine, once it is available.

An earlier study did not find a higher risk of death in pregnant Covid patients, but pregnant patients in the new study were 1.7 times more likely to die than non-pregnant patients. This equated to a mortality rate of 1.5 per 1,000 cases in symptomatic pregnant women, compared to 1.2 per 1,000 cases in symptomatic women who were not pregnant.

Even after adjusting for differences in age, race, ethnicity, and underlying health conditions like diabetes and lung disease, pregnant women were three times more likely than non-pregnant women to be admitted to an intensive care unit and 2.9 times more likely to receive mechanical care. ventilation.

The study also shed light on racial and ethnic disparities. Almost a third of pregnant women with Covid were Hispanic. And while black women made up 14% of pregnant women included in the analysis, nine of the 34 deaths were black women.

Dr Ellington stressed the importance of taking precautions to avoid infection, saying pregnant women should limit interactions to avoid people who may have been exposed.

“Pregnant women should be advised of the importance of seeking prompt medical care if they experience symptoms,” the authors wrote.

A smaller study, also published Monday by the CDC, reported that women who tested positive for the coronavirus were at increased risk of giving birth prematurely, finding that 12.9% of live births among a sample of 3,912 women were live births. preterm, compared to 10.2% in the general population. The sample was not nationally representative, but the finding echoes previous reports that warned of a higher risk of preterm deliveries.

Of the 610 newborns who were tested for the coronavirus, 2.6% tested positive, with most infections occurring in babies whose mothers had the infection within a week of giving birth.

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