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Pregnant women’s COVID infection may increase risk of preterm birth: Study

Monday, 13 June 2022 (17:30 IST)
Kolkata: COVID-19 infection, a pandemic that spread across the world very rapidly has been shown to have many adverse health effects.

One such effect of severe coronavirus infection in pregnancy is the development of infection-related obstetric complications. Increased chances of preterm delivery, increased requirement of neonatal admissions, and some increase in the risk of stillbirths has been reported in many research articles which studied pregnancy and COVID infection.

People who are pregnant or recently pregnant are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 compared to people who are not pregnant. People who have COVID-19 during pregnancy are also at increased risk for complications that can affect their pregnancy and developing baby, said Dr. Krishnaveni Nayani senior obstetrician and gynaecologist, Ankura hospital for women and children, Hyderabad.

A research published recently studied the effects of COVID infection in 2130 pregnant women across 18 countries and reported an increase in adverse outcomes including maternal mortality and preterm birth in infected women.

Similar findings have also been reported by a study conducted in the Indian population. The research done in India has demonstrated that pregnant women with COVID infection are at an increased risk of preterm births and their babies may be at a greater need for NICU admissions. Other research papers across different countries have also shown such findings.

A meta-analysis of case studies as published by Centre for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy, states that it’s unclear if COVID-19 is the direct cause of preterm delivery, or whether such an effect occurs due to an abnormal response that COVID may induce towards any other opportunistic infection. The review, which has considered multiple studies has also found that coronavirus doesn’t significantly influence pregnancy.

Since COVID started spreading at the end of the year 2019, most of the studies are still recent to be stated as conclusive. “Since the obstetric and neonatal complications as demonstrated by the research papers can impose serious health consequences, all pregnant women are advised to take strict precautions to prevent the risk of coronavirus infection,” said Dr. Krishnaveni Nayani.

Wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing, avoiding crowded gatherings and frequent washing of hands are the best ways to prevent getting infected. Apart from just the women who are pregnant, their family members too, are urged to take similar precautions to protect against the spread of COVID in the family.

Irrespective of the complications it can cause, severe COVID infection itself is a cause of debility, especially in pregnant women. Women when pregnant have been found to have increased requirements for ICU admission and mechanical ventilation if infected by severe coronavirus infection. Such a risk of women developing serious disease when pregnant could be due to the physiological changes in pregnancy, such as increased heart rate and oxygen consumption, states one study.

Besides taking adequate precautions to prevent getting infected by coronavirus, all women are urged to get vaccinated against this deadly infection. Vaccination against coronavirus is safe and not only helps in the prevention of disease but also reduces the severity of infection in case of its occurrence. “In case women acquire coronavirus infection when pregnant, they should seek care at the earliest to reduce the severity of the disease and prevent any possible complications due to it,” Dr. Krishnaveni Nayani added.

The doctor urged all pregnant women to continue taking the best possible precautions against coronavirus for a healthy pregnancy outcome. (UNI)

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