Pregnant women might be at a higher risk of being admitted to a hospital's intensive care unit or even needing ventilation if infected with the coronavirus, a researcher at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.
This new information, which has not been published yet, contradicts some previous research suggesting that pregnant women may not be at a higher risk of becoming sick enough to need treatment in the ICU if they catch coronavirus.
"There can be physiologic changes in pregnancy that may increase the risk of severe illness, and severe disease has been associated with other viral respiratory infections in pregnant women. However, initial reports have been unclear regarding Covid’s impact on pregnant women," Sara Oliver of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said during a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Wednesday.
Pregnant women are, for instance, much more vulnerable to influenza.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been limited data on what risks pregnant women could face with Covid-19 — if any — but now the new information that Oliver presented in the ACIP meeting helps add to the scientific literature. The information is scheduled to be published in a CDC report on Thursday.
By the numbers: The report includes information about 326,335 women ages 15 to 44 who had a coronavirus infection between January 22 and June 7, Oliver said. There were 8,207 pregnancies reported among the women.
"This new report includes the largest US cohort of pregnant women with lab-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection," Oliver said in her presentation. "Among pregnant women, 31.5% were reported as hospitalized compared with 5.8% of non-pregnant women."
"Pregnant women were 50% more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit and 70% more likely to receive mechanical ventilation. Sixteen deaths were reported among pregnant women, in a similar proportion to non-pregnant women," Oliver added.
Oliver noted that a separate analysis previously found the risk of ICU admission and mechanical ventilation was actually lower among pregnant women with coronavirus and there was no statistically significant difference in the risk of in-hospital death — so more research is needed.
"More complete data are needed to assess if SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy is associated with adverse pregnancy or neonatal outcomes," Oliver said.
"However, results from this study do suggest an increased risk of ICU admission and mechanical ventilation, which are distinct proxies for severity, in pregnant women compared to non-pregnant women," Oliver said. "However, the absolute risk of clinical interventions is still very low in this population."