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Women who are pregnant or planning to have a baby should be extra cautious about COVID-19. A study by University of Birmingham scientists has revealed that expecting mothers who get coronavirus are more than twice as likely to end up in intensive care as infected women who aren't pregnant. They are also nearly three times more likely to experience a stillbirth, according to the World Health Organization-funded study. However, mothers-to-be are slightly less likely to die with the virus than women who weren't expecting, it said, as reported by the Daily Mail.
For the study published today in the British Medical Journal, the researchers analysed data from more than 41,000 pregnant women in three dozen countries, including the UK, US and China. According to the study results, 616 out of 34,035 pregnant women infected with coronavirus were admitted to intensive care (1.8 per cent). Among non-pregnant women with COVID-19, the rate of admission to ICU was 1.7 per cent (9,568 out of 567,073). After the differences between the groups were adjusted, the risk of being admitted to the ICU with Covid-19 was found to be 2.13 times higher in the pregnant group. Covid-infected pregnant women were also twice as likely to need a ventilator breathing tube than women with Covid who were not expecting, the study said.
The study also found that nine of 1,039 (0.9 per cent) of births to pregnant mothers with Covid-19 were stillbirths. In comparison, 26 of 4,755 (0.5 per cent) of births among those who hadn't caught the disease were stillbirths. The indicate a 2.8-fold increase in risk of stillbirth for pregnant women with COVID-19 infection. Also, the study results showed that 147 out of 1,184 (4.2 per cent) Covid-infected women gave birth prematurely, compared to 572 out of 7,365 (7.8 per cent) among those that didn't have the virus.
In spite of these findings, a top WHO expert who was part of the study 'reassured' mothers that the risk to their babies from Covid-19 was 'very low'.
However, the risk of dying with coronavirus was slightly less in pregnant women than women who weren't expecting. In the study, 103 out of 34,047 (0.3 per cent) pregnant women with Covid-19 died compared to 3,388 out of 567,073 non-pregnant women (0.6 per cent). This means the risk of dying of Covid was four per cent lower for pregnant women than non-pregnant women. The reason behind it is not clear though the researchers noted.
Professor Shakila Thangaratinam from Imperial College London, a lead author on the study, told Daily Mail that they found no significant difference in the number of deaths recorded between pregnant and non-pregnant women with the virus, suggesting the virus had not raised their risk of death.
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