Conflicting studies on the effects of coronavirus in pregnant women

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Pregnant women in Britain are no more likely than other women to become severely ill with COVID-19, but most expectant mothers who do develop serious illness tend to be in the later stages of pregnancy, according to a preliminary study.

The study, which was posted online on Monday on the MedRxiv website but has not yet been peer-reviewed, found fewer than 0.5% of all pregnant women were hospitalized with the disease, and only around 10% of those women needed intensive care. Most pregnant women who were admitted to hospital were more than six months pregnant, the study also found.

A separate study from Sweden, however, found pregnant women there do appear to face higher risks. Swedish national registry data, published on Sunday in the medical journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, showed that compared to nonpregnant women infected with the coronavirus, similarly aged pregnant women with the virus were more than five times as likely to need intensive care and four times more likely to need invasive mechanical ventilation.

The authors of an editorial accompanying the study advise that, “on the basis of available data…the risk of COVID-19 in pregnancy should not be down-played to avoid falsely reassuring healthcare professionals and the public. Women should be advised to take necessary precautions to avoid infection during pregnancy.”

Via Reuters/ Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica/ MedRxiv

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