Covid infection linked with increased complications in pregnancy, birth: Study

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    Pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to have complications with pregnancy and birth compared to those without the ínfection, according to a study. The research, publishing on Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine, looked at hospitalisation for births in France during the first six months of the pandemic.

    The study suggests that vaccination may be useful to protect women and their babies, particularly for those at a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 infections.The researchers from the Universite de Paris in France analysed data for hospitalisations for birth after 22 weeks gestation in France between January and June 2020.

    Until March 15, all confirmed cases of COVID were hospitalised but after this hospital admission was based on the medical condition of the patient, they said.The researchers noted that of 244,465 births in hospital, 874 or 0.36 per cent of mothers had been diagnosed with COVID-19.

    Women in the COVID-19 group were more likely to be older, have obesity, be carrying more than one baby, or have a history of high blood pressure compared to those without, they said.The study found that women with COVID-19 had a higher frequency of admission to ICU, death, preeclampsia and eclampsia.

    Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterised by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system while eclampsia is the new onset of seizures or coma in a pregnant woman with preeclampsia.The infected women also had a higher frequency of gestational hypertension, haemorrhage either before or after birth, very premature spontaneous or induced birth, and cesarean section, the researchers said.

    Rates of pregnancy terminations, stillbirths, gestational diabetes, placenta previa, placental abruption, and blood clots were not increased, they said. Being aware of these complications is important for health care providers to support pregnant women and provide the best care.

    The authors believe that although causality cannot be established in the study, vaccination to protect pregnant women from COVID-19 may be useful, particularly for those in higher risk groups.

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