At this point we all know what the common COVID-19 symptoms look like. Fever, coughing, headache, loss of the senses of taste and smell, difficulty breathing and some others. In general, they do resemble common flu.

However, scientists from the World Health Organization and the University of Birmingham have found that pregnant women are less likely to manifest common virus symptoms, but are facing other risks.

Older and sick people are facing greater risks when it comes to the COVID-19 disease. People with compromised respiratory and immune systems are  in danger of serious complications or even death from COVID-19 disease. However, scientists didn’t quite know enough about how COVID-19 affects pregnant women.

This international team of researchers analysed existing evidence from 77 studies, including the outcomes of 11,432 pregnant and recently pregnant women from the USA, Europe, Central and South-East Asia and South America. Scientists wanted to see how the virus affects women during and after pregnancy and whether the pregnancy itself is in danger in case of COVID-19 disease.

Scientists made several interesting findings. First of all, pregnant women diagnosed with COVID-19 are less likely to show symptoms. However, at the same time they are at an increased risk of admission to intensive care units. One of the reasons is that they are more likely to experience preterm birth than similar aged non-pregnant women. Furhtermore, around a quarter of babies born to mothers with COVID-19 diagnosis have to be admitted to neonatal units.

The good news is that stillbirth and newborn fatality rates are low regardless of COVID-19. Older and overweight pregnant women as well as those having pre-existing conditions like hypertension or diabetes are facing bigger risks of COVID-19, but that’s true for general population with these conditions as well.

Professor Shakila Thangaratinam, lead author of the study from the WHO, said: “Our study has demonstrated a need for increased awareness for health care professionals around the symptoms and effects of COVID-19 on pregnant and recently pregnant women, and early identification of pregnant women with risk factors. We shall be updating our findings on a regular basis as new evidence emerge.”

So the results were a mixed bag of good and bad. Pregnant women don’t usually feel symptoms of COVID-19, but still get put in the ICU. The rates of stillbirths and newborn fatalities are low, but babies still have to be sent to neonatal units. Women with COVID-19 are more likely to experience a preterm birth too. This information should help doctors to assess risks when it comes to COVID-19 and pregnant women.

Source: University of Birmingham