New study reveals risk factors for severe COVID-19 in pregnancy remain the same

By Gemma Murphy on 04 September 2020 Midwifery NHS covid-19 Covid-19 Research Pregnancy Midwives Expectant Mothers BAME RCM Mary Ross Davie

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has welcomed a new study on risk factors in pregnant women and maternal and perinatal outcomes of COVID-19. The study, published this week in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), will contribute to improved learning on the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women, according to the RCM.

The study itself reviewed 77 international studies with 33,118 pregnant and recently pregnant women with COVID-19 and 83,486 non-pregnant women with coronavirus.

Commenting, RCM’s Director of Scotland, Dr Mary Ross Davie said:

“The findings of this study do differ from the findings of other studies undertaken solely in the UK, but what is clear is that is still remains important that pregnant women continue to be alert to limit their chances of contracting the virus. If they develop symptoms, they must seek medical advice and care immediately. We also know that COVID-19 is having a disproportionate impact on black, Asian minority ethnic (BAME) pregnant women who need to remain extra vigilant.”

What this study adds to current research:

  • Pregnant and recently pregnant women with COVID-19 diagnosed in hospital are less likely to manifest symptoms of fever and myalgia than non-pregnant women of reproductive age and might be at increased risk of admission to an intensive care unit.
  • Risk factors for severe COVID-19 in pregnancy include increasing maternal age, high body mass index, and pre-existing comorbidities.
  • Pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to experience preterm birth and their neonates are more likely to be admitted to a neonatal unit.

The RCM says it’s important to remember that many pregnant women will only experience mild symptoms of coronavirus and they should not be alarmed by the findings in this paper.

Mary added:

“The women in this study found to be at particular risk of becoming severely unwell with COVID-19 are those with underlying medical conditions, including high blood pressure and diabetes, women with a high BMI and older women. Our advice for pregnant women continues to be to be the same as before and if you are thinking about becoming pregnant, it is wise to get as healthy as possible before you do. It is particularly important to reach a healthy weight through a healthy diet and regular activity as this reduces the risks of many problems during pregnancy, including COVID-19.”