Study Shows COVID-19 Raises Risk of Death in Pregnancy Sevenfold

Starrys Obazei/January 19, 2023.

An assistant professor of global health at the George Washington Milken Institute of Public Health, Emily Smith, and her team of researchers at the George Washington University, Washington D.C., says COVID-19 infection in pregnancy raises a woman’s risk of death sevenfold and significantly elevates her odds for needing intensive care, ICU, a new study finds.

The virus during pregnancy, the researcher noted, ups the likelihood of pneumonia, according to a report by U.S. News.

“This study provides the most comprehensive evidence to date suggesting that COVID-19 is a threat during pregnancy,” Smith said.

“Our findings underscore the importance of COVID-19 vaccination for all women of childbearing age,” she added in a university news release.9.2M
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More than 13,000 pregnant women were involved in these studies with patient data pooled from 12 studies conducted in 12 countries, including the United States.

Moms-to-be with COVID-19 infection not only had a seven times higher risk of dying during pregnancy or childbirth but were at three times greater risk of needing ICU, admission, says U.S. News.

These women had about 15 times higher risk of needing ventilator treatment and about 23 times higher risk of developing pneumonia, which is a potentially life-threatening complication of COVID, it says.

They also had a five times higher risk of blood clots that can cause pain, swelling, or other life-threatening complications.

And the babies born to women who were infected with COVID also developed problems. They were almost twice as likely to be admitted to a neonatal ICU after birth and had higher odds of preterm birth. Preterm babies are at high risk of having lifelong health problems, Smith said, including delays in early childhood cognitive development, according to the U.S. News report.

The study noted that many women of childbearing age remain unvaccinated in the US and elsewhere, adding that some women hesitate or refuse to get the vaccine or booster shot because they think the risks of having COVID are small for young women or are unsure about vaccine safety during pregnancy.

Lamenting the situation worldwide, Smith said more than 80 countries still do not recommend that all pregnant and lactating women get the COVID vaccine. This meta-analysis provides public health officials and the public with clear, consistent, and compelling findings, the U.S. News quoted her as saying.

“This study shows the risk of getting COVID-19 for both mother and baby,” Smith said, adding that, “all countries, including the United States, should make access to COVID vaccines an urgent priority in order to save lives and prevent health problems.”

The study findings were published on Jan. 17 in BMJ Global Health. The research was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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