New Delhi: Pregnant women who have Covid-19 are less likely to show symptoms, but may need to be rushed to the intensive care unit because of a sudden deterioration of condition, a new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has found.
They are also at a higher risk of pre-term delivery, said the analysis led by the University of Birmingham which looked at 77 published studies in pregnant and recently pregnant women with Covid
“Pregnant and recently pregnant women are less likely to manifest Covid-19 related symptoms of fever and myalgia (muscle pain, one of the commonest symptoms Covid-19) than non-pregnant women of reproductive age and are potentially more likely to need intensive care treatment for Covid-19,” it said.
The study added that pre-existing comorbidities, high maternal age, and high body mass index seem to be risk factors for severe Covid-19, and that preterm birth rates are high in Covid-positive women than those without.
The study also found that one in 10 pregnant or recently pregnant women, who went for check-ups or were admitted to hospital for any reason, were diagnosed as having suspected or confirmed Covid-19, though stillbirth and neonatal death rates were low among them.
Pregnant women are categorised as a high-risk group for unfavourable outcomes in Covid-19, alongside the elderly, children and people with comorbidities. Many investigational therapies for Covid, such as remdesivir, could be harmful, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare guidelines.
They are also more likely to be tested for Covid when they turn up for routine checks, even when there is no history of contact or symptoms.
“In the recent cohort study of all individuals admitted with Covid-19 in the UK, the cluster of respiratory symptoms of cough, fever, and breathlessness were observed in more than two-thirds of individuals, similar to reported rates in the US and China. But in our review, fewer pregnant and recently pregnant women with Covid-19 manifested these symptoms than the non-pregnant population, indicating possible high rates of asymptomatic presentation in this population,” the study in BMJ said.
“This is likely because of the strategy of universal screening for Covid-19 in pregnancy, and the low thresholds for testing than in non-pregnancy. Despite the possibility of the above strategies detecting pregnant women with mild disease, we observed an increase in admissions to the intensive care unit and need for invasive ventilation compared with non-pregnant women of reproductive age with Covid-19,” the researchers wrote.