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Covid-19 generally a low risk to pregnant women

Published on Thursday, 12 November 2020

Following on from our new research about Covid-19 in babies, we thought we'd remind you of two studies we released earlier this year about the impact of the virus on pregnant women.

Characteristics and outcomes of pregnant women admitted to hospital with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection in UK: national population based cohort study

Learning from SARS-CoV-2-related and associated maternal deaths in the UK

The studies confirmed that, in general, pregnant women in the UK are no more likely to become ill with severe Covid-19 than those who aren't pregnant. However, those who were most affected by the virus were more likely to be in the last three months of pregnancy and of Asian or Black ethnicity. We also found that pregnant women who were older, those who were overweight and those with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes were more likely to be admitted to hospital as a result of Covid-19.

The research was carried out by our sister organisations MBRRACE-UK (Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the UK) and UKOSS (UK Obstetric Surveillance System). MBRRACE-UK collects and analyses information on women and babies who have died during pregnancy, birth and the first few weeks after birth, and UKOSS works with hospitals across the country to collect information about rare conditions and complications in pregnancy and birth Their findings feed into our work at the Policy Research Unit for Maternal and Neonatal Health and Care (PRU-MHHC).

We already know from MBRRACE-UK reports that Black women are 5x more at risk of dying during pregnancy, childbirth or in the first 6 weeks after birth, and that women of Asian origin have double the risk of white women. These reports emphasise yet again that midwives and doctors need to be aware of this increased risk and admit women early to ensure they receive the right specialist care. There are also recommendations around what pregnant women, and those who are at greater risk, need to know about signs of Covid19 and when to seek emergency care.

Professor Marian Knight, who worked on both reports, said: “Pregnancy and birth in the UK is still very safe, even with Covid-19. During the period covered by this report around 160,000 women gave birth in the UK and only 10 women died with the virus. However, it is really important that women seek advice from their midwife or doctor early if they are at all worried about symptoms and do not delay attending hospital.”

Updated: Thursday, 07 October 2021 18:13 (v12)