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Pregnant women hospitalized for COVID-19 infection do not face increased risk of death

UM School of Medicine researchers find reassuring evidence that pregnancy does not increase patient's risk of dying when hospitalized with pneumonia

Pregnant woman in a hospital bed

Pregnant women who develop severe COVID-19 infections that require hospitalization for pneumonia and other complications may not be more likely to die from these infections than non-pregnant women. Photo: Freepik

EurekaAlert | UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND SCHOOL OF MEDICINE

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Leer en español: Las mujeres embarazadas hospitalizadas por COVID-19 no enfrentan un mayor riesgo de muerte

Pregnant women who develop severe COVID-19 infections that require hospitalization for pneumonia and other complications may not be more likely to die from these infections than non-pregnant women. In fact, they may have significantly lower death rates than their non-pregnant counterparts. That is the finding of a new study published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM).

The study examined medical records from nearly 1,100 pregnant women and more than 9,800 non-pregnant patients aged 15 to 45 who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and pneumonia. Slightly less than 1 percent of the pregnant patients died from COVID-19 compared to 3.5 percent of non-pregnant patients, according to the study findings.

Also read: Study: Older adults found resilience during pandemic through community

There are, however, some important caveats to the study data in terms of differences between the two populations. Pregnant patients were more likely to be younger and have fewer health conditions, including diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and chronic lung disease, compared to the non-pregnant patients. Given the small number of deaths seen in the study, the researchers were unable to control for these differences to determine whether they significantly affected mortality risk.

"I think this is reassuring news for women who are pregnant and worried about getting infected with COVID-19 as new variants emerge," said study corresponding author Anthony Harris, MD, MPH, Professor of Epidemiology & Public Health at UMSOM. "While the study does not tell us for certain that pregnancy does not pose added risks for women, the data certainly point in that direction."

Researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston also participated in this study. UMSOM faculty who were co-authors of this study include Katherine Goodman, JD, PhD, Lisa Pineles, MA, Lyndsay O'Hara, PhD, Gita Nadimpalli, MD, MPH, Laurence Magder, PhD, and Jonathan Baghdadi, MD, PhD.

"I am so pleased we can provide some reassuring news to pregnant women who have faced an added burden during the COVID-19 pandemic," said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine. "This is an important study that adds to our knowledge of the COVID-19 pandemic at a critical time."

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About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world -- with 45 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs; and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished two-time winner of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1.2 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically based care for nearly 2 million patients each year. The School of Medicine has more than $563 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total population of nearly 9,000 faculty and staff, including 2,500 student trainees, residents, and fellows. The combined School of Medicine and Medical System ("University of Maryland Medicine") has an annual budget of nearly $6 billion and an economic impact more than $15 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine, with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School of Medicine works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu

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