February 2022

Utah Doctor’s Nationwide Study About COVID-19 and Pregnancy

Feb 9, 2022 | Celebration of Wellness Newsletter, Feb 22

Pregnant people sick with COVID-19 are roughly 40% more likely to develop serious complications or die than pregnant people who don’t have the virus, according to a new nationwide study led by a Utah doctor.

The more severe one’s COVID-19 symptoms are, the more likely they are to suffer serious pregnancy complications — even from common risks, such as high blood pressure, postpartum hemorrhage and other infections, said Dr. Torri D. Metz, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Utah Health.

Metz discussed the findings in a news conference Monday. Here’s what you need to know.

How does COVID-19 affect pregnancy?
Pregnant people have a higher risk of dying from COVID-19 or needing to be treated in an intensive care unit, previous research has shown. This new research found that COVID-19 can also adversely affect the outcome of a pregnancy, Metz said.

Pregnant people with moderate or severe COVID-19 symptoms — who need supplemental oxygen or to be treated in an ICU — were roughly three times more likely to have serious pregnancy complications than those who had mild, flu-like symptoms or were asymptomatic.

Most COVID-19 cases (80%) were detected in the third trimester, meaning researchers weren’t able to reliably study how the virus may affect complications earlier on in a pregnancy, Metz said. The study was published Monday in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

What is Dr. Metz’s advice?
Get vaccinated for COVID-19, Metz said.

Even though this study was conducted in 2020, before vaccines were widely available to the public, Metz said it provides more evidence that pregnant people should get the vaccine, to help prevent them from experiencing a more severe COVID-19 illness.

Nationally, pregnant people have been less likely than those who aren’t pregnant to receive the vaccine. Metz said she hopes this new study will help alleviate the concerns of people who have been hesitant. “We know that vaccination is safe and effective, and we know that SARS-CoV-2 is dangerous in pregnancy,” she said.

Find where to get vaccinated at coronavirus.utah.gov. Learn more about COVID-19 and pregnancy at mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/covid-19-vaccines/.


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