Pregnant women with COVID-19 are at higher risk for complications, severe illness and negative impacts on the fetus. Furthermore, new research shows the pandemic poses risks to babies, especially boys.
Risks During Pregnancy
Pregnant women infected with the coronavirus are more likely to develop respiratory complications. Especially those with underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes. In addition, Black and Hispanic pregnant women seem to be disproportionately affected by the virus. Pregnant women with COVID-19 are also five times more likely to require intensive care unit admission. The risk appears to be greatest among pregnant women who are between the ages of 35 and 44.
Researchers believe increased risk is due to the physiological changes that take place during pregnancy. This includes factors like an increased heart rate, lower lung capacity, and more.
Though these risks exist, this doesn’t mean you need to panic if you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant soon. A Nov. 19, 2020 study published in JAMA Open Network shows that approximately 5 percent of all COVID-19 positive mothers developed severe illness.
If you start to feel sick or if you have been exposed to the virus, contact your physician right away. And remember that when you’re feeling sick, stay home and avoid situations where you could possibly infect other people.
Impact Of Coronavirus on The Fetus
The research also suggests that pregnant women with COVID-19 are at higher risk for preterm birth and cesarean delivery. Additionally, babies born to mothers with COVID-19 are more likely to be admitted to a neonatal care unit.
Boy fetuses and male newborns are more vulnerable than females because they’re more likely to be born prematurely and have a higher risk of disability. Furthermore, boys are disproportionately affected by conditions linked to maternal infections.
Research shows that pregnant women with COVID-19 made fewer antibodies when carrying male fetuses versus females. Mothers also transferred fewer antibodies to boys than to girls.
For COVID-19 positive fetuses, the greatest danger is not typically the virus itself, but the mother’s immune system. Severe cases of coronavirus can expose fetuses to harmful prenatal inflammation.
Pregnancy and Pandemic-Related Stress
Rates of depression and stress among pregnant women have increased dramatically during the pandemic. This is concerning, because chronic stress can lead to inflammation, and inflammation during pregnancy can impact a child’s long-term learning development.
Learn more about maternal mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic and how to better cope with pandemic related stress by clicking here.
The Good News
You can reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 by following public health recommendations.
Also, know that coronavirus rarely crosses the placenta, so most newborns of women who had COVID-19 during pregnancy do not have COVID-19 when they are born. Also, keep in mind that only 5 percent of all COVID-19 positive mothers develop severe illness.
- Pandemic Poses Short- and Long-Term Risks to Babies, Especially Boys
- COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant, Breastfeeding, or Trying to Conceive
- Maternal Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic
If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Women’s Health Arizona. As Arizona’s largest ObGyn group, we’re trained and solely dedicated to delivering the best ObGyn experience in convenient and comfortable settings around Phoenix.