New data from Montreal researchers, who conducted a meta-analysis of 42 studies involving more than 400,000 pregnant people around the world, links COVID-19 to increased risk of pregnancy complications – including preterm birth and stillbirth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Matias Delacroix

New data from Montreal researchers, who conducted a meta-analysis of 42 studies involving more than 400,000 pregnant people around the world, links COVID-19 to increased risk of pregnancy complications – including preterm birth and stillbirth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Matias Delacroix

Severe COVID-19 infection linked to increased risk of stillbirth, preterm birth

Study says COVID-19 patients were more likely than those without the disease to experience stillbirth

New data from a Canadian study links COVID-19 to increased risk of pregnancy complications including preterm birth and stillbirth, with the risks rising if infection is severe.

Montreal researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 42 studies involving 438,548 pregnant people around the world.

Authors including Dr. Nathalie Auger of the University of Montreal’s School of Public Health said the data “provides clear evidence that symptomatic or severe COVID-19 is associated with a considerable risk of preeclampsia, preterm birth and low birth weight.”

“Clinicians should be aware of these adverse outcomes when managing pregnancies affected by COVID-19 and adopt effective strategies to prevent or reduce risks to patients and fetuses,” concludes the study, published Friday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The study says COVID-19 patients were more likely than those without the disease to experience stillbirth, preterm birth andpreeclampsia, a condition that causes high blood pressure in the second trimester of a pregnancy.

Compared with asymptomatic patients, symptomatic patients were at double the risk of preterm birth and a 50 per cent increased risk of caesarean delivery.

Meanwhile, those with severe COVID-19 had a fourfold higher risk than those with a mild case to experience high blood pressure and preterm birth.

The reason for increased risk was unclear, but researchers said it could be because the virus that causes COVID-19 stimulates an inflammatory response affecting blood vessels.

“Lack of knowledge about SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy has raised urgent questions among obstetricians and neonatologists about the risk of maternal, fetal and neonatal morbidity and mortality,” the study says.

“There is an urgent need for evidence to guide clinical decisions.”

Dr. Deborah Money, an obstetrician who is leading a national surveillance project on pregnancy during the pandemic, said findings about preeclampsia in the newly published study are surprising.

“They’ve given some suggestions related to the information associated with getting COVID-19 that may be affecting the placenta, but I think (with) one meta-analysis among the entire body of international literature that is different, we should probably just take it with a grain of salt,” said Money, a professor in the University of British Columbia’s department of obstetrics and gynecology.

“We so far have analyzed 1,800 cases of COVID in pregnancy in Canada, so we’re all scanning and watching and looking for any adverse outcomes that we weren’t necessarily expecting because of this rather unusual infection and reacting to those that we think are solid and robust,” she said of obstetricians and gynecologists around the world.

Findings from Canada have already shown pregnant women with COVID-19 are at higher risk of hospitalization and preterm birth while data so far has not shown whether stillbirths are statistically higher.

Money said she found some aspects of the Montreal study problematic because it includes women with both suspected and proven COVID-19 infections. It’s also based on a diverse group of international studies involving parts of the world that have challenges providing prenatal care, which would have different baseline rates of pregnancy outcomes.

“We are seeing some disturbing literature from Mexico and South America, which we think is related to social determinants of care and access to health care,” she said.

Pregnant women should take all precautions to reduce interactions outside of their family bubble and consider getting vaccinated, Money said.

“The message I want to send is it’s very important that women access health care as needed. And don’t be frightened of doing that because the pandemic is ongoing” Money said, adding conditions such as high blood pressure would be picked up at clinics and hospitals that are taking public health precautions to protect patients.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Pexels photo)
Okanagan film boom owes to industry’s strong pandemic response: Sandhu

Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu lauded the local film industry’s adaptation to the pandemic

The City of Vernon is still taking applications for council discretionary grants until April 30. (File photo)
Funding available to Vernon non-profits, societies

Grants awarded to organizations that ‘contribute to the general interest and advantage of the city;’ deadline is April 30

A sani-dump station is coming to the frontage road off Okanagan Landing Road. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
New Vernon sani-dump station raises a stink among neighbours

Temporary relocation to Okanagan Landing with future plan at former Kin racetrack

The Wild Oak Cafe in Armstrong is one of the available squares in the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce's Bingo game to support local businesses. (Facebook)
Bingo boosts Armstrong eateries

Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber launches #BoostOurBiz featuring bingo card which would win you prizes

Vernon Fire Rescue Services will conduct a controlled burn in the Foothills area Friday, April 16. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATED: Controlled Foothills burn cancelled

Vernon Fire Rescue Services had planned for a controlled burn in Foothills on Friday, April 16

Arlene Howe holds up a picture of her son, Steven, at a memorial event for drug overdose victims and their families at Kelowna’s Rotary Beach Park on April 14. Steven died of an overdose at the age of 32 on Jan. 31, 2015. (Aaron Hemens - Kelowna Capital News)
Moms Stop the Harm members placed crosses Wednesday morning, April 14, on Rotary Beach in memory of children lost to drug overdoses. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Kelowna mothers remember children lost to the opioid crisis

It has been five years since illicit drug deaths was announced a public health emergency

A member of the Oliver Fire Department works on the wildfire near the Cottages at Osoyoos Lake on Tuesday night. The fire is believed to have been caused by a human. (Oliver Fire Department Facebook)
UPDATE: Osoyoos wildfire believed to be human-caused

The Oliver Fire department also responded to another fire along the hike and bike trail on Saturday

(Amandalina Letterio - Capital News)
Kelowna demonstrators show support for Vancouver Island logging activists

Two Kelowna men stood atop a pedestrian bridge on Harvey Avenue to raise awareness about old-growth forests

desert hills estate winery grapes
Osoyoos winery back in business after clean bill of health

Desert Hills chose to temporarily close after a close contact tested positive for COVID

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
WATCH: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among the encouraged ventilation measures

Hikers are still able to climb to the top of Giant’s Head Mountain in Summerland, but the paved road to the upper parking lot will be closed from 7 a.m. to noon and all day on Sundays. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland park partially closed to vehicle traffic

Giant’s Head Mountain Park gates will be closed to cars until noon

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Young cyclists from Quebec have not been riding single file on Naramata’s narrow and windy roads, causing the ire of locals worried for their safety and theirs. (Dan Moskaluk)
Quebec cyclists bad road behaviour causing stir in Penticton

The young cycling group illegally riding two-abreast on Naramata’s narrow roads

Most Read