WASHINGTON - Pregnant women who become infected with the coronavirus may be at a greater risk of hospitalization than women who aren’t pregnant, according to a report published this week by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
The warning is a change from earlier guidance that found no difference in risk between the groups.
A study of thousands of U.S. women between January and June found that pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized and are at increased risk for ICU admission requiring mechanical ventilation.
A file image shows a pregnant woman receiving an ultrasound during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Yegor AleyevTASS via Getty Images)
Between Jan. 22 and June 7, the CDC received reports on 326,335 women between the ages of 15 to 44 who tested positive for virus. Data on pregnancy status was available for 91,412 of the women with infections, and among them, 8,207 were pregnant.
The study found that pregnant women were 5.4 times more likely to be hospitalized than non-pregnant women, 1.5 times more likely to be admitted to the ICU, and 1.7 times more likely to receive mechanical ventilation, after adjusting for age, the presence of underlying conditions and race or ethnicity.
Symptomatic pregnant and non-pregnant women also reported similar frequencies of cough and shortness of breath, but pregnant women reported fewer symptoms of headache, muscle aches, fever, chills and diarrhea, the study found.
The risk of dying from COVID-19 didn’t appear greater for pregnant woman — reported at 0.2% for both groups, the CDC said.
The report also noted racial disparities among pregnant women infected with COVID-19, disproportionately affecting Hispanic and Black women.
The CDC has warned that a COVID-19 infection could also mean a greater risk of preterm labor, but the report notes that much remains unknown about the virus during pregnancy.
This week, a pregnant woman in Louisiana died due to complications from COVID-19, but doctors were able to able to successfully deliver her baby at just 25 weeks.
The 29-year-old woman was hospitalized with the virus at the end of May and placed on a ventilator, but her condition did not improve. The 2-pound baby was being cared for in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.
The CDC report recommended that pregnant women not skip their prenatal appointments. It also advised limiting interactions with other people as much as possible and taking other reasonable precautions to prevent getting COVID-19.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said it was reviewing all of its clinical materials and patient resources in light of the findings.
“The new data released today suggest a different level of risk for pregnant patients than was previously indicated by earlier data,” Dr. Christopher Zahn, ACOG’s vice president of practice activities, said in a statement. “In keeping with our evidence-based approach, ACOG is reviewing all of our clinical materials and patient resources related to COVID-19 in light of newly available information and will make any necessary revisions to recommendations.”
This story was reported from Cincinnati.