New Study Suggests COVID-19 May Increase Chance of Premature Births

September 19, 2020 Updated: September 19, 2020

A new study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests pregnant women who have tested positive for COVID-19 may be more likely to have premature births.

The study, which was published on Wednesday, found that pregnant women might possibly be at high risk of suffering from premature births if the mother is infected with COVID-19.

The study utilized the data of hospitalized women from March 1 to Aug. 22. Almost 7,900 women between the ages of 15 and 49 were studied, but only around 2,255 had their pregnancy information available. Of those, 598 women were pregnant—that means that roughly around 1 out of 4 women between the ages 15 and 49 was pregnant around that time.

“The proportion of hospitalized women aged 15-49 years with COVID-19 who were pregnant in this study (26.5 percent) suggests that pregnant women have disproportionately higher rates of COVID-19-associated hospitalizations compared to non-pregnant women,” the study indicated.

Data also showed that 56 births (around 12.6 percent) were premature. This is higher than the general rate of premature births in America, which stands at 10 percent. What was also discovered is that compared to asymptomatic pregnant women (23.1 percent), symptomatic women (8 percent) were three times more likely to give birth prematurely.

Researchers found that 54.5 percent of the pregnant women were asymptomatic. The rest were symptomatic and were found to be more susceptible to complications—16.2 percent of them were admitted to ICU, 8.5 percent were on ventilators, and two others died during their hospitalizations. None of these complications occurred in the asymptomatic pregnant women.

The researchers also gave their own warnings regarding prematurely born babies, stating that “preterm newborns might be at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, and preventive measures, such as encouraging caretakers to wear a mask and practice hand hygiene, should be emphasized to minimize possible transmission.”

Moreover, out of all 598 pregnant women studied, 458 of then completed their pregnancies, whereas the rest had either not given birth yet or had passed away. Out of the 458 completed pregnancies, there were 10 pregnancy losses.

The rate of pregnancy losses, however, occurred in both asymptomatic and symptomatic pregnant women.

The study suggested that people who are pregnant should take measures to protect themselves against COVID-19, and be sure not to skip out on medical appointments, especially prenatal care appointments, according to the CDC.

“Identifying COVID-19 during birth hospitalizations is important to guide preventive measures to protect pregnant women, parents, newborns, other patients, and hospital personnel,” the study stated.