London, Feb 23 | Covid-19 infection in pregnancy is not associated with stillbirth or early neonatal death, says a new study.
The findings indicated that no babies died from Covid-19. There was also no increase in risk of stillbirth or low birth weight. However, the data suggested a higher risk of pre-term birth (defined as birth before 37 weeks).
“The study’s findings, that there is no increased risk of stillbirth and early neonatal death in women who contracted Covid-19 while pregnant, are reassuring. However, the study highlights the need for more research to determine if, or how, Covid-19 affects maternal outcomes or premature birth,” said researcher Fiona Watt from the Imperial College London.
For the study, published in the journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology, the team looked at data from 4,004 pregnant women who had suspected or confirmed Covid-19 infection.
Of these women, 1,606 were from the UK, while 2,398 were from the US. All the women gave birth between January-August 2020.
In the UK data, 12 per cent of women with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 had a pre-term delivery — 60 per cent higher than the national average rate of 7.5 per cent. In the US data, 15.7 per cent of women had a pre-term birth, 57 per cent higher than the US national average of 10 per cent.
The study team said part of this association may be due to doctors deciding to deliver the baby early due to concerns about the effect of Covid-19 infection on mother and baby. The rate of spontaneous pre-term birth was lower than expected.