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Barbara C. Arroyo

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that pregnant women are at risk of being admitted to a hospital intensive care unit or needing ventilation if they are infected with coronavirus.

This new data, which has not yet been published, contradicts some previous research showing that pregnant women do not have the risk of being sick enough to require treatment in the ICU if they catch coronavirus.

“There are physiological changes in pregnancy that increase the risk of serious illness and severe virus associated with other viral respiratory infections in pregnant women. However, early reports of the effect of covid on pregnant women are unclear,” said Sarah Oliver of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Wednesday. Said at a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Methods.

For example, pregnant women are more susceptible to influenza.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been limited data on what risks pregnant women can face with Covid-19 – if any – but now the new data presented by Oliver at the ACIP conference adds to the scientific literature. This information will be published in the CDC report on Thursday.

Numbers wise: Oliver said the report contained information on 326,335 women aged 15 to 44 who were infected with coronavirus between January 22 and June 7. There were 8,207 pregnancies reported in women.

“This new report is the largest US group of pregnant women with lab-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection,” Oliver said in his presentation. “Among pregnant women, 31.5% reported being hospitalized, while 5.8% were non-pregnant women.”

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“Pregnant women are 50% more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit and 70% more likely to undergo mechanical ventilation.

Oliver found in a separate analysis that ICU admission and mechanical ventilation were actually lower in pregnant women with coronavirus, and that there was no statistically significant difference in the risk of hospital death – so more research is needed.

“More complete data are needed to assess whether SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy is associated with adverse pregnancy or neonatal outcomes,” says Oliver.

“However, the results of this study suggest that in pregnant women, the intensity of ICU admission and mechanical ventilation are more specific proxies for severity, compared with non-pregnant women,” says Oliver. “However, the absolute risk of clinical interventions in this population is still very low.”

About the author

Barbara C. Arroyo

Barbara C. Arroyo

I'm a writer, editor and newsroom leader working at the intersection of tech and media, editorial and product, journalism and management. I am driven to transform our industry for the future, develop and mentor our people, build compassionate and innovative organizational cultures, and put readers and communities at the center of it all. I also have a love of storytelling and creative work, and refuse to pick one or the other.

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