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Pregnant women 5 times more likely to be hospitalized if they catch COVID-19

The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada, analyzed more than 13,600 women from Ontario.

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By Gwyn Wright via SWNS

Pregnant women are five times more likely to end up in hospital if they catch coronavirus than non-pregnant women of childbearing age according to new research from Canada.

But those who recover do pass antibodies on to their unborn baby, a separate study revealed.

Although pregnant women were half as likely to get the disease compared with the rest of the population, they were almost five times as likely to be admitted to hospital and six times more likely to end up in intensive care if they did catch it.

Serious pregnant lady standing over grey background and make stop gesture. Coronavirus or covid-19 ncov concept. Pregnant woman wearing mask working from home quarantine.
The study's lead author noted that their findings highlighted the need to reassure pregnant women and tackle concerns about vaccine safety. (MorphoBio/Shutterstock)

Healthy pregnant women were more than five times as likely to be hospitalized as healthy non-pregnant women, while pregnant women with underlying illnesses were only twice as likely to be hospitalized as their non-pregnant peers with comorbidities.

The findings held up irrespective of age, underlying conditions, vaccination status and the variant of the virus they caught.

Women who took just one dose of a jab were half as likely to be hospitalized and half as likely to end up in intensive care with the disease than those who refused one.

Their chances of getting severely ill were slashed even more if they had more than one dose.

The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada, analyzed more than 13,600 women from Ontario.

Each pregnant woman with coronavirus was matched with five non-pregnant women of childbearing age with coronavirus.

The researchers also used data on one million people who caught the bug in Ontario between March 2020 and January this year.

Researchers conducted a time-matched cohort study evaluating the relative risk of severe illness in pregnant women with COVID-19 matched to Covid-infected women of childbearing age (10 to 49 years old) by date of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19.

Modeling was used to estimate the risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes (hospitalization and ICU admission) in pregnant women and non-pregnant women after adjusting for age, other illnesses, healthcare worker status, vaccination, and infecting variant.

young pretty african american woman pregnant laying in bed, lifestyle people concept
The Canadian study analyzed more than 13,600 women from Ontario. (Head over Heels/Shutterstock)

There were less than five maternal COVID-19 deaths during the study, so the risk of dying during pregnancy could not be evaluated.

Lead study author Kiera Murison said: “These findings suggest that in otherwise healthy women, pregnancy itself seems to be a factor that increases illness severity, while among women with comorbidities it becomes one of several factors that augment risk.

“Our findings underscore the need for clear accurate information to reassure pregnant women and tackle concerns about Covid vaccine safety.”

In a separate study, researchers in Italy looked at whether coronavirus antibodies can be passed on between mothers and babies.

Close up portrait of man doctor using ultrasound to check fetal health of his patient, young pregnant woman. Medical and healthcare concept. Obstetrics, gynecology and ultrasound
(Desizned/Shutterstock)

Antibodies to nasty illnesses are known to be passed on between mother and baby during the last three months of pregnancy, giving the baby some protection against the illness when they are born.

However, little had been known about how coronavirus antibodies are transferred between mother and child in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

For the study, the team analyzed more than 4,000 women who gave birth in Bologna between July 2020 and March last year.

They all took PCR tests to check if they had the deadly bug and provided blood samples to check for antibodies to the disease.

All their newborn babies took PCR tests for COVID-19 and newborns whose moms tested positive for antibodies were also tested for antibodies.

Of the 73 babies whose mothers had tested positive for COVID-19, 85 percent of them had antibodies to coronavirus.

None of the babies had specific types of antibodies, called IgM antibodies, which occur only in people who have very recently recovered from the disease.

All the babies tested negative for the coronavirus itself, suggesting the antibodies had been passed onto them by their mother rather than being created by themselves.

While most antibodies were transferred between mother and baby, levels were slightly lower in babies than in mothers.

Lead study author Dr. Liliana Gabrielli said: “This study of pregnant women and their newborns, which was carried out in the pre-vaccination era, found that 3.4% of the women had COVID-19 during pregnancy.

“Most of these women passed antibodies to their babies.

"However, the protection provided by these antibodies will gradually decrease over time and disappear within 100 days of birth in most cases.”

Both sets of findings were presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Lisbon, Portugal.

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