Institute shares new data on COVID-19 and pregnancy

HealthPartners Institute co-authored a new report that showed pregnant women hospitalized with COVID-19 had higher rates of preterm birth and stillbirth. The report also showed pregnant women with gestational diabetes were more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19.

The data was published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. It was collected from HealthPartners and seven additional health systems in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Wisconsin during March through May of this year.

“Based on these findings, COVID-19 might confer unique risks to pregnant women, especially if they have certain underlying conditions,” said Elyse Kharbanda, MD, co-author of the study and HealthPartners Institute investigator. “There is still a lot we don’t know about how COVID-19 impacts pregnant women and their babies, which is why are looking at this population.”

The key details related to infections include:

  • Researchers identified 105 hospitalizations involving pregnant women who had COVID-19.
  • Fifty-nine percent of the pregnant women were hospitalized for reasons related to pregnancy. Upon admission, routine testing showed the virus was present, though they were asymptomatic.
  • Forty-one percent of the pregnant women were hospitalized because of COVID-19. Many of these women were obese prior to pregnancy or had developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

The key details related to birth outcomes include:

  • Among all of the pregnant women who were hospitalized regardless of symptoms, 12.2 percent of live births were preterm, which is when a child is delivered before 37 weeks. Typical rates of preterm birth within the participating health systems are around 6 percent.
  • 3.2 percent of pregnancies ended in stillbirth. Typically rates of stillbirth within this population are about 0.6 percent.

“This data should be interpreted with caution, given our small sample size,” she said. “But, it is concerning. More research on the topic is needed.”

In the meantime, Kharbanda stresses the importance of everyone working to prevent the spread of this virus to help keep vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, from developing COVID-19.

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