COVID-19 and the Risk of Premature Births

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COVID-19 and the Risk of Premature Births

According to reports published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, new studies have led to some troubling findings regarding pregnant women. According to these studies, pregnant women, if infected with the coronavirus, seem to have a higher risk of giving birth prematurely. Moreover, pregnant women infected with the virus and hospitalized are at a higher risk of developing severe complications. The afflicted may also be at risk of having a stillbirth or losing the pregnancy.

The study was conducted on 598 pregnant women who had contracted the virus and were hospitalized between March and August. 445 live births were reported of which 12.6% were premature, i.e., birth before 37 weeks. This is around 25% higher than the rate of premature births in the general population. Of these 445 live births, around 8% asymptomatic and 23.1% symptomatic women had premature births. Two new-born babies died in the hospital. Both these babies were born to symptomatic women who needed ventilators.

According to CDC adverse birth outcomes and serious illness were noted in hospitalized pregnant women who were infected with COVID-19. This is why it is essential to prevent and identify the infection in pregnant women.

The CDC also recommended testing new-born babies for COVID-19 if the mothers are infected with the dreaded virus. Such mothers and their babies should also be isolated from other mothers in the hospital according to the CDC.

According to the report, about half of the pregnant women had symptoms when they were admitted. Around 16.2% of these women needed to be admitted to the ICU and 8.5% needed ventilators. The same wasn’t required for asymptomatic women. Moreover, pregnancy loss, which includes miscarriages and stillbirths, occurred in ten such cases.

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Pregnancy might leave a woman more susceptible to infection and illness for various reasons. Pregnancy suppresses the immune system as a way to protect the fetus; however, this ends up making the mother more vulnerable to illnesses. Other physiological changes, for example, the effect on the lungs due to the expansion of the uterus, or the increased strain on the cardiovascular system, leaves mothers more vulnerable. Moreover, COVID-19 might also increase the chances of blood clots.

According to Dr. Denise Jamieson, who is a member of the COVID-19 task force at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, data from three separate systems at the CDC show that pregnant women might be at an increased risk for serious illnesses from the coronavirus. Dr. Peter Bernstein, director at Montefiore Medical Center also stated that while it is unclear whether these women would have felt sicker or not if it wasn’t for their pregnancy, a lot of them are getting sick, or even dying.

Experts are yet to determine the exact link between the severity of the infection and pregnancy. However, it will be safer, especially for pregnant women, to ensure strict safety protocols are being followed. From wearing masks to social distancing, expectant mothers should make sure to minimize any possible risks that may lead to contracting the virus.