Pregnant women with COVID-19, the disease the coronavirus causes, are more likely to be hospitalized, admitted to the intensive care unit, and put on ventilators than non-pregnant women with the disease, according to a new CDC analysis including over 90,000 US women.
The report, the largest of its type to date, also found that Black and Hispanic pregnant women may be disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
While the analysis comes with many caveats — namely, that it’s unclear how many of the women were hospitalized due to labor and delivery, or pregnancy complications unrelated to COVID-19 — it provides important data on a group that scientists have known little about.
For the study, researchers compared 8,207 COVID-positive pregnant teens and women to 83,205 of their infected peers who were not pregnant.
They found that more than 31% of the pregnant women were hospitalized, 1.5% were admitted to the ICU, and 0.5% needed to be put on ventilators. Of the non-pregnant women, 6% were hospitalized, 0.9% went to the ICU, and 0.3% were ventilated.
Pregnant women with COVID-19 were not any more likely to die.
The findings are reminiscent of a recent study out of Sweden showing that COVID-positive pregnant women were five times more likely to be admitted to the ICU and four times more like to be ventilated than non-pregnant women. While the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has considered pregnant women an at-risk population for COVID-19 since they’re susceptible to greater morbidity and mortality from other respiratory conditions like the flu, the CDC has maintained that the virus doesn’t seem to “affect pregnant people differently than others.”This new data calls that conclusion into question.
“I think the bottom line is this: These findings suggest that compared to nonpregnant women, pregnant women are more likely to have severe COVID,” Dr. Denise Jamieson, head of the COVID-19 task force at ACOG, told the New York Times.
While not addressed in the current study, it still seems that women can’t pass the virus to their babies in utero or through breastmilk, and that most newborns who do test positive for COVID-19 have mild or no symptoms, and completely recover.