How Does COVID-19 Impact Pregnancy?

In the ongoing fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic, the medical community continues to face the spread of misinformation regarding the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine (via University Medical Center). Pregnant women in particular have voiced concerns regarding the vaccine's potential side effects on the baby, as well as how it may impact reproductive health. However, health officials have made it clear that the risks associated with COVID-19 itself are of far more concern to pregnant individuals than the vaccine.

According to CNN, two new studies have revealed that symptomatic pregnant COVID-19 patients are at an increased risk for birth complications over those who present as asymptomatic. These emergency complications can affect not only the mother, but also the baby. The first study examined 100 pregnant women in the state of Texas during 2020 who were diagnosed with COVID-19 at the time they gave birth. It was found that nearly 60% of mothers who actively displayed COVID-19 symptoms experienced emergency birth complications such as a reduction in fetal movement, a feet-first fetal birthing position, an increased need for oxygen support, as well as an increased likelihood for intensive care.

Symptomatic pregnant women are at an increased risk for emergency birth complications

Kristine Lane, a medical student at the University of Texas Medical Branch, elaborates on the outcomes of this study, stating via CNN, "COVID-19 has severe systemic effects on the body, especially symptomatic patients. It is possible that these effects are amplified in pregnant mothers, who have increased fetal and maternal oxygen demands." The second study, published in The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, revealed similar findings. It was determined that pregnant women diagnosed with COVID-19 who displayed symptoms such as a cough were at an increased risk for gestational diabetes and other neonatal health complications over asymptomatic or negative-testing COVID-19 pregnant patients.

While the first study examined pregnant American women and the second study looked at pregnant women in Israel, these findings continue to be reflected in other parts of the world. On Monday October 11, the National Health Service (NHS) revealed that in England, approximately 20% of severely ill COVID-19 patients are pregnant unvaccinated women (via The New York Times). President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Dr. Edward Morris stated via the NHS, "The disproportionate number of unvaccinated pregnant women in intensive care demonstrates that there is a significant risk of severe illness from Covid-19 in pregnancy."