DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – Pregnant women and their developing babies are at greater risk of serious consequences if they contract COVID-19, and a major international study recently published highlights just how catastrophic those risks can be. .
The study, published in BMJ Global Health, draws on data from 12 studies conducted in multiple countries, including the United States. Together, the studies included more than 13,000 pregnant women, nearly 2,000 of whom had a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19. The health outcomes of these women and their babies were compared to nearly 11,000 pregnant women who either tested negative for the coronavirus or had antibodies against the virus at birth.
Through studies, it has been found that about 3% of pregnant women infected with “Covid-19” need intensive care, and about 4% need some kind of intensive care. This far exceeded the number of pregnant women who needed this type of care for other infections.
Compared to pregnant women who did not have “Covid-19”, pregnant women with Covid were admitted to intensive care at a rate of about 4 times, and they were 15 times more likely to need artificial respiration, and 7 times more likely to die. They had a higher risk of pre-eclampsia, blood clots and problems with high blood pressure. Children born to mothers infected with “Covid-19” were more likely to be born prematurely and have a lower weight.
Previous studies have suggested that COVID-19 may increase the risk of stillbirth, but this large review was unable to confirm this.
The risks are constant from country to country
Nevertheless, the results paint a clear picture, showing that the risks of pregnancy increase following a “Covid-19” infection.
“It’s very clear, consistent, you know, if we’re talking about Sweden where we have great pregnancy outcomes, or other countries that we know, we have bigger problems in terms of illnesses and deaths in mothers, and Corona virus infection during pregnancy increases the risk rate.
The study has some caveats that may limit the applicability of the results to pregnant women in the era of the Corona virus Omicron mutant.
The studies were done relatively early in the pandemic, when the majority of people were neither vaccinated nor infected. This means that the pregnant women in the study were likely to be at higher risk not only because they were pregnant, but also because they were immunocompromised to the virus, as they had no prior immunity to help them. to fight the infection.
Since then, many pregnant women have been vaccinated, infected with COVID-19, or both. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Control (CDC), by the first week of January, approximately 72% of pregnant women in the United States had received their first round of COVID-19 vaccines, and it is estimated that approximately 95% of Americans have been infected with “Covid-19” at least once, or have been vaccinated against it. This means that they may have some immune memory against the virus which can protect them from serious consequences.
However, this immune memory seems to fade over time. Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Control shows that only 19% of pregnant women received an up-to-date booster shot, meaning many of them may not be as protected against the virus that they think so.
The study’s lead author, Emily Smith, an assistant professor of global health at George Washington University, noted that the study’s findings reflect the risk of contracting “Covid-19” and pregnancy in unhealthy people. vaccinated.
Unfortunately, according to Smith, many countries still do not have clear guidelines recommending vaccination during pregnancy. And there are some parts of the world, like China, where a large portion of the population has not yet been infected with the coronavirus.
Vaccination is essential
For people trying to weigh the risks and benefits of the “Covid-19” vaccine during pregnancy, Smith pointed out that this study goes a long way in tipping the balance in favor of receiving the vaccine.
“It’s worth protecting yourself during pregnancy,” she added.
She said this study did not examine the benefits of vaccination during pregnancy, but other studies have shown a significant reduction in the risk of stillbirth, premature birth, serious illness or maternal death.
Dr. Justin Labin, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, who was not involved in the research, praised the study, noting that its results reinforce previous research, which found that “Covid-19” greatly increases the risk of catastrophic repercussions for mother and child.
He stressed that the results underline the importance of reducing “Covid-19” and treating pregnant women.
Labin told CNN that specifically prescribed or recommended treatments should not be withheld due to pregnancy or breastfeeding.
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