Women May Suffer from Premature Labor Due to Coronavirus

New studies into the subject reveal that pregnant women are likely to suffer from more severe form of coronavirus infection and an increased risk of pregnancy loss.

The studies published by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that pregnant women who are infected with the coronavirus and hospitalized are at risk for developing serious complications. One of these complications is the risk of stillbirth and premature birth.

These findings are in line with previous ones which found that pregnant women are more likely to suffer from severe coronavirus illness but were dismissed due to a small sample size.

The two new CDC studies show that many women hospitalized pregnant women sick with coronavirus were asymptomatic. And among women who did have symptoms required intensive care (16 to 30 percent) and ventilators (6 to 8.5 percent) to help breathe. Of more than 700 women in the study, three actually died due to COVID-19.

Pregnant women infected with the coronavirus experienced a higher rate of preterm deliveries than expected and had some stillbirths, according to data from both studies. This is also what a previous British study showed, when there was a population wise increase in stillbirths due to coronavirus.

Scientists believe that because the immune system is suppressed during pregnancy, a woman may be more susceptible to an infection. The immune system during pregnancy is suppressed to shield the fetus from any bad reactions.

Other factors that might contribute may be that lungs are affected by the expanding uterus, the heart is working harder, and the fact that coronavirus can increase risk of clots that might have a negative effect on the placenta. Placenta is vital to provide nourishment to a fetus during pregnancy.

As these findings come to light, the scientific community is urging pregnant women to be extra vigilant and to wear masks in public along with practicing social distancing, to minimize the risk of an infection in the first place. Experts have actually urged for implementing a universal screening policy for all pregnant women, due to increased risk.

Dr. Neel Shah, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard University, agrees with this recommendation and is calling employers to take extra precautions to help their pregnant employees at this crucial time.

“If there is one call for action, it is that employers need to take care of their pregnant people, especially if they’re getting close to term, and do everything possible to avoid them being exposed — allowing them to work virtually or giving the time and space they need,” said Shah.

These two reports come from completely two different CDC surveillance systems.

The first study included 598 women infected with coronavirus in 13 different states, between March and August. With an average age of 30, one in 5 of these women had a serious health issue like hypertension or asthma. Among these women, 42 percent were Hispanic, and 26 percent were African American.

Half of these women were not showing any symptoms when they were admitted to the hospital. Of all the women, 16 percent required intensive care and 8.5 percent required ventilators to help with breathing. Two women died.

The study showed that women with or without symptoms, had premature births and pregnancy losses. However, preterm births affected about 25 percent of symptomatic women, compared with only 8 percent of the asymptomatic women. Ten women had miscarriages or stillbirths.

For comparison, the one in 160 pregnancies result in a still birth and rate of premature births has been 10 percent in recent years, in United States.

In the other study, 105 pregnant women infected with the coronavirus between March and May were looked at. Also, with an average age of 30, most of them were without symptoms and more than half were Hispanic.

Among those who were hospitalized because of COVID-19, rates of obesity and gestational diabetes were higher than among those who were hospitalized for other reasons. About 30 percent of those hospitalized because of COVID required intensive care and 14 percent required a ventilator. Only one death was observed.

Of the women who delivered their babies, 15 percent had premature births and 3 percent had stillbirths. The rates were higher than what is typically observed among pregnant women in these populations.

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