Pregnant women who contracted coronavirus after conceiving are more likely to face preterm birth, according to a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco. According to the research published in the journal 'The Lancet Regional Health - Americas', it asserts that the risk of very preterm birth, which occurs at less than 32 weeks of gestation, was 60 percent higher for people infected with COVID-19 at some point in their pregnancy. While it noted that the risk of giving birth at less than 37 weeks was 40 percent higher in those with infection.
The study further said that for the women who have hypertension, diabetes, and/or obesity as well as COVID-19, the risk of preterm birth rose 160 percent. "Preterm birth is associated with many challenging outcomes for pregnant people and babies, and very preterm births carry the highest risk of infant complications,” said lead and corresponding author Deborah Karasek, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, and researcher with the California Preterm Birth Initiative at UCSF. "Our results point to the importance of preventative measures to reduce COVID-19 infection among pregnant people to prevent preterm birth, including vaccination,” she said.
"Pregnant people may have concerns about vaccines and the health of their baby, so being able to have an open dialogue that values those concerns, describes evidence about safety, and conveys the risks posed by COVID-19 infection during pregnancy is critically important."
On July 30, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued updated guidance strongly recommending that all pregnant individuals get vaccinated against COVID-19. Pregnant people are considered a high-risk population for COVID-19 infection, yet less than a quarter have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The researchers analyzed all live births between July 2020 and January 2021 documented by California Vital Statistics birth certificates. Of the 2,40,157 recorded births, nearly 9,000, or 3.7 percent, indicated a COVID-19 diagnosis in pregnancy. The preterm birth rate among birthing people with a COVID-19 diagnosis was 11.8 percent compared with 8.7 percent among those without coronavirus.