Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the effect of the coronavirus on pregnancy has been a worrisome mystery; with little data available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website had previously said there was no evidence that pregnancy was a risk factor for COVID-19. But last week, the CDC updated its website to include pregnant women, particularly Black and Hispanic women, among those who may be at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 — an important finding as the medical profession learns about the virus that has so far infected over 2.8 million in the United States alone and 11.4 million worldwide.
A Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released by the CDC on June 16 found that “among women of reproductive age with COVID-19, pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized and at increased risk for ICU admission and receipt of mechanical ventilation compared with nonpregnant women.”
The reassuring news in the report was that pregnancy did not appear to increase the risk of death from COVID-19.
So far there is no evidence that the coronavirus has a negative effect on the fetus, though the CDC is warning about the possibility of an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preterm birth.
The findings are based on reports of 326,335 women of reproductive age received by the CDC from Jan. 22–June 7, which concluded that 31.5 percent of pregnant women with COVID-19 were hospitalized, compared to 5.8 percent of nonpregnant women. The report cautions that pregnancy status was missing for three quarters of women of reproductive age, and that it’s not clear if the women were hospitalized because of COVID-19 or if they were admitted for something else related to their pregnancy and also happened to have COVID-19. But even before the potential consequences of COVID-19 on pregnant women were revealed, the risk of other respiratory illnesses were well-known.