Pregnant women who catch Covid are TWICE as likely to have a premature birth, study reveals
- US scientists monitored 43,000 pregnancies, including 1,300 involving Covid
- None of the women in the study had been vaccinated against the virus
- Experts speculated the virus may exacerbate underlying conditions raising risk
Pregnant women who catch Covid are twice as likely to give birth prematurely, a study has found.
US scientists monitored 43,000 expectant mothers over the year to March 2021, including 1,300 who tested positive.
As well as the increased risk of having a premature birth, Covid-infected mothers were more at risk of sepsis and blood clots.
Experts speculated that Covid infections may exacerbate underlying conditions like problems with the uterus and cervix, making an early birth more likely. They said children born before their due date may be at a higher risk of suffering from mental and heart problems.
Researchers said the study should be used to encourage mothers-to-be and women planning to have a child to get vaccinated.
Almost half of pregnant women in England (48 per cent) were vaccinated when they gave birth in November 2021, the latest date available.
US scientists found Covid-positive pregnant women were twice as likely to have an early birth as those who did not catch the virus (Stock image of a pregnant women being jabbed)
The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, was carried out before vaccines were offered to pregnant women in the UK and US.
My daughter might still be alive if she’d been vaccinated, says father of 24-year-old
A mother who died after falling ill with Covid would probably still be alive had she been jabbed, her devastated father has said.
Sadie Exley, 24, was pregnant with her second child when she suddenly started suffering from migraines and chest pain.
She was diagnosed with a blood clot in her lung, and then caught Covid.
Her condition deteriorated and a week later she was taken to hospital having become paralysed on one side.
The shop worker was transferred into intensive care at Leeds General Infirmary but tragically died earlier this month after a brain haemorrhage.
Thankfully, doctors were able to save her baby son Elliot who was delivered by caesarean section at 29 weeks weighing just 2lbs 1oz.
Her father David said doctors had told him they thought ‘she’d still be here’ had she not been taken in by anti-vaxxer misinformation.
‘Covid does a lot of things,’ said the 57-year-old. ‘It works on your weaknesses within your body.’
Mr Exley claimed his daughter wasn’t vaccinated as Elliot’s father had ‘watched YouTube videos and was against it’.
Miss Exley, who worked at B&M in her home town of Batley, West Yorkshire, was also mother to two-year-old girl, Harper.
Pregnant women were initially told not to get Covid vaccines when they were first rolled out, as is standard practice with most medicines.
Original jab trials didn’t include them for ethical reasons, so experts had to wait for more data to accrue.
A mountain of studies have since shown them to be safe and effective in the group, prompting campaigns to encourage mothers-to-be to get jabbed.
Scientists extracted data on patients from healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente. Infections were only included if they were PCR-positive.
Results showed 143 Covid-positive women (10 per cent) gave birth before the 37-week mark.
For comparison, 3,438 expectant mothers (eight per cent) who did not have Covid gave birth early.
But after analysis taking into account age, deprivation and body weight, scientists said Covid-positive women were at much higher risk of an early birth.
Senior researcher and lead author Assiamira Ferrara said: ‘These findings add to the growing evidence that having Covid during pregnancy raises risks of serious complications.
‘Coupled with the evidence that the Covid vaccines are safe during pregnancy, these findings should aid patients in understanding the risks of perinatal complications and the need for vaccination.’
She added: ‘This study supports the recommendation for vaccination of pregnant individuals and those planning conception.’
Previous research has also suggested pregnant women face an increased risk of complications if they catch Covid.
Edinburgh University scientists also found in a paper published in January that expectant mothers who caught Covid within 28 days of their due date were twice as likely to give birth prematurely.
And they were up to four times more likely to have a stillbirth.
In the paper, experts did not speculate on why mothers-to-be who catch Covid late in pregnancy are most at risk — but the internal stress of carrying a baby can weaken the immune system.