COVID-19 infection during pregnancy could lead to worse birth outcomes, including longer hospital stay, low birthweight, and pre-term delivery, according to data presented at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Annual Clinical & Scientific Meeting 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. “These effects were largely driven by earlier delivery, as those who had COVID-19 during pregnancy had a four-fold increased risk of pre-term delivery,” stated Yosra Elsayed, Central Michigan University College of Medicine, Mount Pleasant, USA.
The team conducted a retrospective review, which included 128 patients treated at a university-affiliated obstetrics practice between January 2019–July 2022. Results showed that those who were infected with COVID-19 during their pregnancy were 4.3 times more likely to have a pre-term delivery; likely to deliver babies who were on average 242 g lighter; 2.9 times more likely to be hospitalised for 1 week or more; and 2.6 times more likely to deliver a baby with a 1-minute Apgar score higher than 8, compared with those who tested negative for COVID-19.
In total, 41% of participants had severe COVID-19 during their pregnancy, meaning they went to the emergency department, required O2, steroids, or antibody treatments, or were hospitalised. These patients were 4.40 times more likely to stay in hospital longer; 2.85 times more likely to have a baby requiring admission in neonatal intensive care; 3.14 times more likely to require O2 treatment; more likely to deliver a baby with low birthweight; and four times more likely to have preterm delivery, compared with those who did not have severe COVID-19 infection.
Researchers concluded that severe infection was a strong predictor of poor outcomes. “A larger, more diverse sample is needed to confirm findings and to examine the potential impact of vaccination in reducing the impact of COVID-19 infection during pregnancy,” Elsayed said. However, the team hopes these findings will help pregnant females make informed decision regarding their care, and guide recommendations on the treatment of pregnant females with COVID-19 or similar infections.