COVID Triggers Premature Births in Infected Moms

Ralph Ellis

September 21, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

A new CDC report says pregnant women who have coronavirus appear to have a higher risk of giving birth prematurely.

The CDC studied 598 pregnant women who were hospitalized with coronavirus between March and August, according to the information published this week in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Of 445 live births reported, 12.6% were premature, which the CDC defined as before 37 weeks. That rate is about 25% higher than the rate of premature births for the general population, the CDC said.

Of the live births, 23.1% of symptomatic women and 8% of asymptomatic women had premature births. Two live-born newborns died in the hospital -- both born to symptomatic women who required mechanical ventilation. Two mothers died in the hospital, both of whom were symptomatic.

"Severe illness and adverse birth outcomes were observed among hospitalized pregnant women with COVID-19," the CDC said. "These findings highlight the importance of preventing and identifying COVID-19 in pregnant women."

The CDC recommended the testing of newborns born to mothers with COVID-19, isolating mothers with COVID-19 and their babies from other mothers in the hospital, and taking measures to prevent newborns from being infected.

"Continued surveillance for COVID-19 in pregnant women is important to understand and improve health outcomes for mothers and newborns," the CDC said.

The CDC report said about half of pregnant women were symptomatic when they were admitted to the hospital. Among that group, 16.2% had to be admitted to an ICU and 8.5% required "invasive mechanical ventilation." None of that happened to asymptomatic women.

Ten completed pregnancies resulted in "pregnancy losses" including miscarriages, stillbirths, and therapeutic abortions, the CDC said.

The study says it appears Hispanic and Black pregnant women have disproportionately higher rates of COVID-19-associated hospitalization.

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