Pregnant women with coronavirus are more likely to become severely ill and die from Covid-19, according to a report released Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although the risk of severe illness or death remain low overall, CDC researchers found that pregnant women with coronavirus are more likely to need the intensive care, ventilation and heart and lung support than non-pregnant women with the virus.
The CDC-led team examined data on 461,825 women between the ages of 15 and 44 who tested positive for Covid-19 between January 22 and October 3. They focused only on those who experienced coronavirus symptoms.
The researchers adjusted for outside factors and found that pregnant women were more likely to need intensive care, with 10.5 per 1,000 pregnant women admitted to the ICU, compared to 3.9 per 1,000 non-pregnant women.
The researchers noted that among pregnant women, Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander women had a more pronounced risk for ICU admission.
Pregnant women were three times more likely to need help breathing with invasive ventilation than non-pregnant women. Similarly, they were at greater risk of requiring lung and heart support with oxygenation.
They were also more likely to die, with 1.5 deaths per 1,000 pregnant women, compared to 1.2 per 1,000 non-pregnant women. Hispanic women, in particular, were 2.4 times more likely to die if they were pregnant.
The team noted that regardless of pregnancy status, women over 35 were more likely to experience severe illness.
The researchers say that the increased risk for severe illness among pregnant women might be due to physiological changes in pregnancy, including increased heart rate and decreased lung capacity.
“To reduce the risk for severe illness and death from Covid-19, pregnant women should be counseled about the importance of seeking prompt medical care if they have symptoms and measures to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection should be strongly emphasized for pregnant women and their families during all medical encounters, including prenatal care visits,” the study says.