Nov 3, 2020 - Health

CDC: Pregnant women with COVID-19 are at risk for severe illness

Illustration of a mother and child standing in the shadow of a huge Coronavirus cell.
Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

New data reveals pregnant women are at an increased risk for severe illness and death if they contract the coronavirus, the CDC said Monday in a shift from its health advisory from June.

Why it matters: Pregnant women with symptoms of COVID-19 were more likely to require ventilation, and had a 70% increased chance of death compared to non-pregnant women with symptoms.

The big picture: Researchers say the increased risk might be related to physiologic changes in pregnancy, like increased heart rate and oxygen consumption, decreased lung capacity, a shift away from cell-mediated immunity and increased risk for thromboembolic disease.

  • 409,462 symptomatic women between ages 15 to 44 were studied, including 23,434 pregnant women.
  • Pregnant women are three times more likely to be admitted to an ICU and to require mechanical ventilation.

Noteworthy: Though the sample was not nationally representative, another CDC study released Monday said women who tested positive for COVID-19 were at an increased risk of delivering babies prematurely.

  • The findings are consistent with earlier studies showing slightly higher percentages of pre-term deliveries among women diagnosed with COVID-19.
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