Low risk of severe illness from COVID-19 in early pregnancy, shows Chinese research

on 27 October 2021

A study by researchers in China have found that pregnant women who contracted COVID-19 in early pregnancy had ‘less severe’ symptoms than pregnant women who contracted it later in pregnancy.

Researchers from the National Clinical Research Centre on Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing, analysed data of 138 pregnant women who contracted COVID-19 in early 2020.

The data used was recorded between December 2019 and mid-April 2020.

The study was conducted to fill in gaps on how the virus affects this potentially at-risk group.

Qiao Jie and co-authors wrote: “Special attention must be paid to patients infected with Sars-CoV-2 in late pregnancy since the risk of severe illness among them seems higher than that of patients infected in the early stage.”

Using the data sample, it was found pregnancy did not put women at an overall greater risk of severe COVID-19, but patients infected with the virus in early pregnancy were at an even lower risk of severe illness than those who were infected at a later stage of their pregnancy.

Our of the 138 pregnant women evaluated, 17 cases of COVID-19 were severe and one woman died. 13 of the severe cases and the fatality were among women in their third trimester. Four severe cases were in women in their second trimester.

None of the pregnant women in early pregnancy from this data sample had severe illness from COVID-19.

It was also found that a high proportion of women in late pregnancy required oxygen or ventilation compared to those infected in early pregnancy.

Researchers said their results were limited due to potential missing data and variations in the clinical process for treatment and diagnosis.

The research ‘Clinical characteristics of pregnant women with Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China: a nationwide case-control study’ is available on the Medrxiv website here.

This article is a pre-print and has not been peer reviewed.

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