Pregnant women infected with the coronavirus are more likely to be hospitalized, admitted to an intensive care unit and put on a ventilator than are infected women who are not pregnant, according to a new government analysis.
Pregnant women are known to be particularly susceptible to other respiratory infections, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has maintained from the start of the pandemic that the virus does not seem to “affect pregnant people differently than others.”
The increased risk for intensive care and mechanical ventilation worried experts. But the new study did not include one pivotal detail: whether pregnant women were hospitalized because of labor and delivery. That may have significantly inflated the numbers, so it is unclear whether the analysis reflects a true increase in risk of hospitalization.
Admission for childbirth represent 25% of all hospitalizations in the United States, counting mother and baby, said Dr. Neel Shah, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard University. Even at earlier stages of pregnancy, doctors err on the side of being overly cautious when treating pregnant women — whether they have the coronavirus or not.
“There’s quite clearly a different threshold for hospitalizing pregnant people and nonpregnant people,” he said. “The question is whether it also reflects something about their illness, and that’s something we don’t really know.”
If many of the pregnant women were hospitalized for labor and delivery, the proportion of women who were hospitalized for only coronavirus infection and became severely ill — those advancing to the ICU or ventilation — would be even higher, said Dr. Denise Jamieson, a member of the COVID-19 task force at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
“I think the bottom line is this: These findings suggest that compared to nonpregnant women, pregnant women are more likely to have severe COVID,” she said.
Medical reference: Yahoo