Even mild cases of the coronavirus could lead to severe complications for the woman and the fetus, US scientists have warned
Women who got Covid-19 during pregnancy have an increased chance of poor birth outcomes, including babies being born small, low birth weights, and stillbirths, a new study has found.
Research spearheaded by the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle was based on the health records of 18,000 women who delivered babies in the US between March 2020 and July 2021.
Some 880 of them had tested positive for the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) during pregnancy, and their data was compared to that of other mothers who were never infected with the virus.
The results of the team's work have been shared in the prestigious Lancet Digital Health journal on Thursday.
"We found that SARS-CoV-2 infection indicated increased rates of preterm delivery and stillbirth, largely driven by first and second trimester infections," Dr. Samantha Piekos, the first author of the paper, pointed out.
The females in the study had mild or moderate cases of Covid-19. And the paper revealed that poor birth outcomes were possible even if the mother didn't encounter any respiratory problems due to the disease.
However, the severity of maternal infection wasn't correlated with gestational age at delivery, according to the study.
"The single greatest predictor of gestational age at delivery is gestational age at infection, with earlier age at infection associated with earlier age at delivery," Piekos explained.
The paper's corresponding author Dr. Jennifer Hadlock also stressed that "both maternal and fetal health are at increased risk with Covid-19" regardless of the severity of the disease.
The study asserted that pregnant women "would benefit from increased monitoring and enhanced prenatal care after first or second trimester SARS-CoV-2 infection, regardless of acute Covid-19 severity."
The data used in the survey was from the period when vaccines weren't so widely available in the US. Now, when more that 60% of Americans have received two shots of Covid-19 vaccines, further studies can be carried out to find out if vaccination helps to reduce poor birth outcomes, the authors suggested.