An international study in which the Hospital Vall d’Hebron has participated concludes that pregnant women with covid-19 are 50% more likely to have complications during pregnancysuch as premature delivery, pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure), or admission to the ICU.
It is the main conclusion of the Intercovid study, coordinated by the University of Oxford (United Kingdom) and in which more than a hundred researchers from 43 hospitals in 18 countries have participated, including the Spanish Vall d’Hebron in Barcelona and the Clínico Universitario Lozano Blesa de Zaragoza, with the collaboration of more than 2,100 pregnant women.
In statements to Efe, the researcher of the group of Maternal and Fetal Medicine of the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) Nerea Maiz has indicated that the results are surprising, since at the beginning of the pandemic lPreliminary studies indicated that COVID did not generate complications pregnant women, although later it began to be seen that some did appear.
This study, the doctor explained, has made it possible to verify the “magnitude” of complications related to COVID and confirm that pregnant women are “a vulnerable group”, which must be treated as such in prevention policies, including vaccination.
Research shows that women infected with the coronavirus are 50% more likely to have complications during pregnancy, being preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) the most common. Preterm labor is also frequent, in most cases linked to pre-eclampsia, since if this ailment becomes complicated it may force to induce labor before the term. Also, the risk of infected pregnancies ending up in ICUs can be multiplied by up to five, according to Maiz.
Complications depend on the severity of the COVID: Researchers have observed that the more severe the coronavirus disease has been in a patient, the greater the risk of problems with pregnancy, while in asymptomatic pregnant women, hardly any variation has been detected compared to non-pregnant women without symptoms. The study also points out that newborns of infected women have almost three times the risk of serious medical complications and of ending up in the neonatal ICU, mainly due to the increase in premature births.
Yes OK as a general rule there is no transmission of the coronavirus from the pregnant woman to the fetus, the study has observed that one in ten newborns of infected mothers tested positive during the first days, probably, according to the researchers, due to a contagion produced after birth. According to the study, cesarean delivery could be associated with an increased risk of having an infected newborn, but what has been confirmed is that the coronavirus it is not transmitted through breast milk. “This is very important and reassuring, because infected mothers can continue to breastfeed,” stressed Maiz.
This study places pregnant women as a vulnerable group, who must be followed up, both mother and baby, in case of coronavirus infection, according to the researcher.
As to vaccines, preliminary studies suggest that they would be safe for pregnant women and fetuses, something that, if confirmed in other trials still underway, would place pregnant women as a priority group in immunization, said Maiz. At this time, pregnant women are not being vaccinated in a generalized way against COVID, since they are at an age that is not yet being immunized and only those who are exposed to possible infections through their work or who have risk factors are punctured, But everything indicates that this vaccine will end up being recommended in case of pregnancy, as it already happens with the flu.
Although this research sheds some light on the possible damage of COVID in pregnancy, there is still a long way to go, since it remains to be seen if, as in some viruses, infection in the first trimester of pregnancy can carry risks -the Most participants in this study were third-trimester- and examined the long-term effects, in mothers and children.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.