Does Pregnancy Alter the Course of Covid-19?

Covid-19 infection, especially during the third trimester, can lead to an increase in the blood pressure of the mother which in turn increases morbidity and mortality.

Pregnancy is a special time filled with delight and expectations for every woman. However, being pregnant can also be stressful, more so, during this time when we are living with the fear of the pandemic. It is quite understandable that one may be worried about the impact of Covid-19 on the mother and the baby’s health.

Studies have shown that pregnancy and childbirth may not increase the risk of acquiring the coronavirus infection, it may worsen the clinical course of the disease compared to other women in the same age group.

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Effects of Covid-19 on pregnancy outcomes

The country saw a huge upsurge in Covid-19 cases during the second wave and along with it, there was a sudden surge in the absolute number of cases in pregnant women as well. During this period, it was found that more than twenty percent of pregnant women who tested positive for the virus had premature deliveries and 48% had caesarean delivery. Besides, pregnant women with Covid-19 had a high rate of admission to the ICU when compared to their non-pregnant counterparts. Pregnant women with Covid-19 infection may experience rapid deterioration and damage to the fetus.

Role of vaccination

According to the data coming in, the vaccine is seen to significantly reduce the severity of illness and also the mortality associated with the illness. The benefits of vaccination of pregnant women seem to outweigh its potential risks. Covid-19 vaccination for pregnant women has been approved by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) based on the recommendations from the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI).

The approval to vaccinate pregnant women is on the condition that they are clearly informed about the risks of exposure to Covid-19 infection along with risks and benefits associated with the vaccines available in the country. A pregnant woman could be vaccinated at any time of the pregnancy.

Road ahead

Pregnant women are a special population and healthcare providers must be aware of the fact that in presence of Covid-19 infection, they would need special care and that women and their babies have access to this care. This is particularly important for pregnant women with co-morbidities or risk factors.

In addition, it is crucial to understand that in the presence or absence of Covid-19, a woman’s right to a positive pregnancy and childbirth experience must be ensured.

(The author is a Vice President, clinical services DayToDay Health India)

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