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Covid-19 Raises Risk Of Pregnancy Complications—Including Death Around Birth, Preterm Delivery And Postpartum Hemorrhage—Study Finds
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Covid-19 Raises Risk Of Pregnancy Complications—Including Death Around Birth, Preterm Delivery And Postpartum Hemorrhage—Study Finds

Topline
Pregnant people infected with Covid appear to be more likely to experience serious complications or die during pregnancy than those who aren’t infected with the coronavirus, according to new peer reviewed research published in JAMA, which researchers said underscores the need for people to get vaccinated. 

Pregnant people with Covid-19 and moderate to severe symptoms are more likely to experience … [+] complications, a study found.

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Key Facts

Unvaccinated pregnant people with moderate to severe Covid-19 symptoms were more likely to need a Cesarean section, deliver preterm, experience postpartum hemorrhage or die around the time of birth than those without the infection or with no or mild symptoms, according to the study of more than 13,000 pregnant people from 17 U.S. hospitals. 

They were also more likely to experience severe illness from an infection besides Covid, develop high blood pressure, lose the pregnancy and have the infant die as a newborn.

The increased risk was linked to the severity of Covid-19 symptoms—which pregnant people are also more likely to experience—the researchers found, and mild or asymptomatic infections were not with increased pregnancy risks.  

The research is among the first to find Covid infection increases the risk of serious pregnancy complications, said Dr. Torri Metz, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Utah who led the research effort. 

Though the study was conducted before the widespread rollout of vaccines in the U.S., the findings underscore “why we need to make sure pregnant individuals are vaccinated,” Metz said, especially as “we know from other studies that vaccination prevents the most severe symptoms of the disease.”

What We Don’t Know
Covid’s impact in early pregnancy. Some 80% of the infections detected in the study were during the third trimester, the researchers noted, making the research of limited use understanding the risks the coronavirus poses in early pregnancy. 

Tangent
A separate study published in JAMA on Monday found vaccination during pregnancy produced a stronger immune response than an infection in an unvaccinated mother, resulting in more lasting antibodies in infants and higher antibody levels in the mother. While it’s unclear how high antibody levels need to be to completely protect infants from Covid, the levels “correlate with protection from serious illness,” said Dr. Andrea Edlow, a maternal and fetal medicine specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital and co-senior author of the study. “We hope these findings will provide further incentive for pregnant people to get vaccinated, especially with the emergence of new variants of concern like omicron.”

Further Reading
Association of SARS-CoV-2 Infection With Serious Maternal Morbidity and Mortality From Obstetric Complications (JAMA)

COVID vaccines safely protect pregnant people: the data are in (Nature)

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