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First UK Data Looking at COVID-19 in Pregnancy Published

First UK data looking at COVID-19 in pregnancy published

Key Points

  • The research has emphasised guidance to socially distance, particularly in your third trimester (more than 28 weeks).
  • The research suggests that pregnant women are not at greater risk of severe symptoms of COVID-19 than other non-pregnant women
  • As with the general population data, pregnant women from black and other minority ethnic groups were more likely to be admitted to hospital.
  • Older or obese pregnant women were also more likely to be admitted to hospital, as well as those with pre-existing conditions (e.g. high blood pressure or diabetes).
  • Of the 60% of women who have given birth (around 250), only 19 babies were born very early.
  • Around 1 in 20 babies born had a positive test for COVID-19 immediately after birth, which suggests that the virus transmission from mother to baby is low.

The first UK data have been published looking at the impact of COVID-19 in pregnancy. The data are from 427 pregnant women across all maternity units in the UK, and it aims to identify the risk factors for pregnant women and also describe the effects the virus has on the woman and the baby.

The data are from a six-week period starting 1st March 2020 to 14th April 2020, and looked at:

  • How many mothers were hospitalised
  • How many babies were infected
  • How many mothers died
  • How many mothers were admitted for critical care
  • How many babies were born early
  • How many babies were stillborn
  • How many babies died in the first few weeks of life

It also compared COVID-19 data to women who were not infected prior to the pandemic outbreak.

Third Trimester (> 28 weeks into pregnancy)

It was found that the majority of pregnant women (81%) with COVID-19 were admitted in their third trimester (beyond 28 weeks), which highlights that social distancing at this stage is even more important.

No greater risk than non-pregnant women

The patterns seen in pregnant women with COVID-19 are similar to the themes seen in non-pregnant women. The most commonly reported symptoms were a fever, cough, and breathlessness. Around 1 in 10 women were admitted to hospital and required support for their breathing in critical care.

Risk factors

As with general population data, the national surveillance in pregnant women shows that black and minority ethnicity is significantly associated with admission to hospital with COVID-19; 55% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with coronavirus were from a black or other minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds – 13% of the UK population identify themselves as BAME.

In addition, women with co-morbidities; such as, being overweight, obese, being older, having high blood pressure, diabetes.

What does this mean for expectant or new parents?

If you are pregnant, you remain in the “vulnerable” category whilst we learn more about the virus in pregnancy, as some viruses can affect pregnant women more. It is encouraging that the data are confirming what we thought: pregnant women do not look to be at a greater risk than non-pregnant women of becoming seriously unwell.

You are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if you do go out, take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household. Take particular care in your third trimester. You can read government guidance here.

The transmission from mum to baby at or immediately after birth looks to be low, and so care should be taken after the baby is born to minimise risks. A statement about infant feeding from UNICEF can be found here.

Importantly, your GP and maternity team are still here to give you great care, and so if you’re feeling unwell or anxious please do contact them. They will look after you.

COVID-19 Advice Hub

Baby Lifeline has pulled together guidance from the experts for you in one place – our COVID-19 Advice Hub.

If you have any questions, we also have a comment box – we’ll find the answer for you.

The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists will update their guidance soon based on this research, and we will keep you updated.


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