Policy & Regulation
Study finds pregnant women are at a 70% higher risk for COVID-19 infection
19 February 2021 -

A study published on 16 February 2021 has revealed that pregnant women appear to be at a higher risk of COVID-19 infection, CNN reported on Friday.

This study shows the COVID-19 infection rate among pregnant women in Washington state was 70% higher than in similarly aged adults in the state. It also found that rates of infection among pregnant women of colour were two to four times higher than expected.

In their report, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, the researchers stated: "Pregnant women were not protected from COVID-19 in the early months of the pandemic, with the greatest burden of infections occurring in nearly all racial/ethnic minority groups."

For the study, the research team gathered data from 240 pregnant COVID-19 patients in 35 hospitals and clinics, which account for 61% of the state's annual births, from March through June 2020.

Dr Kristina Adams Waldorf, an ob-gyn with the University of Washington School of Medicine and the report's senior author, said: "Our data indicates that pregnant people did not avoid the pandemic as we hoped that they would, and communities of colour bore the greatest burden."

According to the study, the COVID-19 infection rate in pregnant women in the state of Washington was 13.9 out of every 1,000 deliveries, compared to an overall rate for 20- to 39-year-olds in the state of 7.3 out of 1,000.

In a news release, the lead author of the paper, Dr Erica Lokken, said: "Higher infection rates in pregnant patients may be due to the overrepresentation of women in many professions and industries considered essential during the COVID-19 pandemic -- including healthcare, education, service sectors."

The researchers have suggested that pregnant people should be broadly prioritised for COVID-19 vaccination.

"Pregnant women are written out of the allocation prioritisation in about half of US States. Many states are not even linking their COVID-19 vaccine allocation plans with the high-risk medical conditions listed by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention -- which include pregnancy," Waldorf added.