A study released Monday found that pregnant women with a moderate to severe case of COVID-19 are at an increased risk for complications compared to pregnant women who did not have the virus.
The study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) included more than 13,000 pregnant women who delivered babies from March 2020 to December 2020, before vaccines were available. About 2,400 of the pregnant women were infected with COVID-19.
The study found mild or asymptomatic infection was not associated with increased pregnancy risks.
However, those with a moderate to severe case of COVID-19 were more likely to give birth by cesarean section, deliver newborns preterm, die around the time of birth or experience serious illness from conditions associated with a complicated pregnancy.
Those more severely affected by COVID-19 also were more likely to lose the pregnancy or have their infant die while still as a newborn, according to the study.
The NIH, in response to the study results, has called for more pregnant women and women of child-bearing age to get vaccinated if they are not already and take other safety precautions to prevent infection against the coronavirus.
“The findings underscore the need for women of child-bearing age and pregnant individuals to be vaccinated and to take other precautions against becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2,” said Dr. Diana Bianchi, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which funded the study.
“This is the best way to protect pregnant women and their babies.”
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