Study Suggests Pregnant Women Do Not Face Higher Risk of Death From COVID-19

Skylar Kenney, Assistant Editor

Slightly less than 1% of the pregnant patients died from COVID-19 compared to 3.5% of nonpregnant patients, according to the study findings.

Pregnant women with severe COVID-19 infections requiring hospitalization may not be more likely to die from these infections than nonpregnant women, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The findings from a team of investigators at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) suggest they may have significantly lower death rates than their nonpregnant counterparts.

The study examined medical records from approximately 1100 pregnant women and more than 9800 nonpregnant patients ages 15 to 45 years who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and pneumonia. Slightly less than 1% of the pregnant patients died from COVID-19 compared to 3.5% of nonpregnant patients, according to the study findings.

“I think this is reassuring news for women who are pregnant and worried about getting infected with COVID-19 as new variants emerge,” said Anthony Harris, MD, MPH, professor of epidemiology & public health at UMSOM, in a press release. “While the study does not tell us for certain that pregnancy does not pose added risks for women, the data certainly point in that direction.”

According to the investigators, there are several key differences between the 2 populations studied that could explain the results. Pregnant patients were more likely to be younger and have fewer health conditions, including diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and chronic lung disease, compared to the nonpregnant patients. Further, given the small number of deaths seen among the study participants, the researchers were unable to control for these differences to determine whether they significantly affected mortality risk.

I am so pleased we can provide some reassuring news to pregnant women who have faced an added burden during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, executive vice president for medical affairs, University of Maryland, Baltimore, and dean, UMSOM, in the release. “This is an important study that adds to our knowledge of the COVID-19 pandemic at a critical time.”

REFERENCE

Pregnant women hospitalized for COVID-19 infection do not face increased risk of death [news release]. EurekAlert; May 11, 2021. Accessed May 12, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-05/uoms-pwh051121.php