Pregnant women who contract the coronavirus are more at risk for severe illness and death than non-pregnant women, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analysis found. The agency has previously warned that pregnant people might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, but research is ongoing.
The new report, issued Monday, analyzed data collected from over 400,000 women ages 15-44 with symptomatic COVID-19.
Of the 409,462 women with symptomatic coronavirus, 23,434 were pregnant.
“After adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, and underlying medical conditions, pregnant women were significantly more likely than were non-pregnant women to be admitted to an intensive care unit, receive ventilation, receive extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and die,” the report said.
The CDC said the findings may be due to the physiologic changes associated with pregnancy, including increased heart rate and oxygen consumption, decreased lung capacity, immunity changes and increased risk for thromboembolic disease.
Separately, the analysis also found racial and ethnic disparities in both risks for infection and disease severity among pregnant women, “indicating a need to address potential drivers of risk in these populations,” the report said.
The health agency said pregnant women should be counseled about the importance of seeking prompt medical care if they develop symptoms of coronavirus, and that there should be a strong emphasis on coronavirus prevention for pregnant women at each medical appointment.
“To minimize the risk for acquiring SARS-CoV-2 infection, pregnant women should limit unnecessary interactions with persons who might have been exposed to or are infected with SARS-CoV-2, including those within their household, as much as possible,” the CDC said. “When going out or interacting with others, pregnant women should wear a mask, social distance, avoid persons who are not wearing a mask, and frequently wash their hands.”
The CDC also advised pregnant women stay up to date with flu shots and prenatal care.