New data from Montreal researchers, who conducted a meta-analysis of 42 studies involving more than 400,000 pregnant people around the world, links COVID-19 to increased risk of pregnancy complications – including preterm birth and stillbirth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Matias Delacroix

New data from Montreal researchers, who conducted a meta-analysis of 42 studies involving more than 400,000 pregnant people around the world, links COVID-19 to increased risk of pregnancy complications – including preterm birth and stillbirth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Matias Delacroix

Severe COVID-19 infection linked to increased risk of stillbirth, preterm birth

Study says COVID-19 patients were more likely than those without the disease to experience stillbirth

New data from a Canadian study links COVID-19 to increased risk of pregnancy complications including preterm birth and stillbirth, with the risks rising if infection is severe.

Montreal researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 42 studies involving 438,548 pregnant people around the world.

Authors including Dr. Nathalie Auger of the University of Montreal’s School of Public Health said the data “provides clear evidence that symptomatic or severe COVID-19 is associated with a considerable risk of preeclampsia, preterm birth and low birth weight.”

“Clinicians should be aware of these adverse outcomes when managing pregnancies affected by COVID-19 and adopt effective strategies to prevent or reduce risks to patients and fetuses,” concludes the study, published Friday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The study says COVID-19 patients were more likely than those without the disease to experience stillbirth, preterm birth andpreeclampsia, a condition that causes high blood pressure in the second trimester of a pregnancy.

Compared with asymptomatic patients, symptomatic patients were at double the risk of preterm birth and a 50 per cent increased risk of caesarean delivery.

Meanwhile, those with severe COVID-19 had a fourfold higher risk than those with a mild case to experience high blood pressure and preterm birth.

The reason for increased risk was unclear, but researchers said it could be because the virus that causes COVID-19 stimulates an inflammatory response affecting blood vessels.

“Lack of knowledge about SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy has raised urgent questions among obstetricians and neonatologists about the risk of maternal, fetal and neonatal morbidity and mortality,” the study says.

“There is an urgent need for evidence to guide clinical decisions.”

Dr. Deborah Money, an obstetrician who is leading a national surveillance project on pregnancy during the pandemic, said findings about preeclampsia in the newly published study are surprising.

“They’ve given some suggestions related to the information associated with getting COVID-19 that may be affecting the placenta, but I think (with) one meta-analysis among the entire body of international literature that is different, we should probably just take it with a grain of salt,” said Money, a professor in the University of British Columbia’s department of obstetrics and gynecology.

“We so far have analyzed 1,800 cases of COVID in pregnancy in Canada, so we’re all scanning and watching and looking for any adverse outcomes that we weren’t necessarily expecting because of this rather unusual infection and reacting to those that we think are solid and robust,” she said of obstetricians and gynecologists around the world.

Findings from Canada have already shown pregnant women with COVID-19 are at higher risk of hospitalization and preterm birth while data so far has not shown whether stillbirths are statistically higher.

Money said she found some aspects of the Montreal study problematic because it includes women with both suspected and proven COVID-19 infections. It’s also based on a diverse group of international studies involving parts of the world that have challenges providing prenatal care, which would have different baseline rates of pregnancy outcomes.

“We are seeing some disturbing literature from Mexico and South America, which we think is related to social determinants of care and access to health care,” she said.

Pregnant women should take all precautions to reduce interactions outside of their family bubble and consider getting vaccinated, Money said.

“The message I want to send is it’s very important that women access health care as needed. And don’t be frightened of doing that because the pandemic is ongoing” Money said, adding conditions such as high blood pressure would be picked up at clinics and hospitals that are taking public health precautions to protect patients.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Kristian Camero and Jessica Wood, seen here, co-own The Black Cauldron with Stephen Barton. The new Nelson restaurant opened earlier this month while indoor dining is restricted by the province. Photo: Tyler Harper
A restaurant opens in Nelson, and no one is allowed inside

The Black Cauldron opened while indoor dining is restricted in B.C.

These two city-owned houses on Railway Avenue in the Railtown district will be sold. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
City of Nelson will sell two derelict houses in Railtown

Purchasers will be responsible for demolition and slope stability issues

First-year Selkirk College student Terra-Mae Box is one of many talented writers who will read their work at the Black Bear Review’s annual (virtual) launch on April 22. Photo: Submitted
A grant from the province will fund the installation of lighting and electrical in the stage at Cottonwood Park and the construction of a washroom. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
City of Nelson receives grant for washroom and electrical at Cottonwood Falls Park stage

Grant will also fund concession stand and parking improvements

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

Most Read