COVID-19 During Pregnancy Shows no Link With Death of Baby or Still Birth

February 24, 2021
Killian Meara

The data supports strong guidance for enhanced precautions to prevent SARS‐CoV‐2 infection in pregnancy.

A recent study led by investigators from the Imperial College London has found that an infection with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) during pregnancy is not associated with early neonatal death or stillbirth. Results from the study were published in the journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

"It is obviously critical to understand how COVID-19 affects different groups of people,” said Fiona Watt, the Executive Chair of Medical Research Council said. “We're proud to have funded the present study in which, for the past year, researchers have monitored the health of a substantial number of pregnant women and their babies.”

The team behind the study analyzed data from 4,004 pregnant woman who had either a suspected or a confirmed infection with COVID-19. 1,606 of the women were from the United Kingdom and 2,398 were from the United States. The data was gathered from the registries PAN-COVID and the American Academy of Pediatrics SONPM, respectively.

All of the women in the study gave birth between the months of January and August of 2020.

Findings showed that no babies had died from COVID-19 throughout the course of the study and that there was no increased risk of low birth weight of still birth. However, the investigators did find that there was a higher risk of pre-mature birth.

12% of the women from the UK data had a pre-term delivery, which was 60% higher than the current national average of 7.5%. The US data showed that 15.7% of women had a pre-term birth, which is 57% higher than the national average of 10%.

The investigators noted that there may be an association due to doctors deciding on an early delivery because of concerns stemming from a mother being infected with COVID-19. Additionally, 2% of UK babies and 1.8% of US babies tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 after being born to mothers with a confirmed case.

"This study supports the prioritization of vaccination for women who are pregnant or who plan to become pregnant, and existing measures that protect women in pregnancy from infection, in order to reduce pre-term birth,” Ed Mullins, a co-author on the stud said.