(Black Press Media)

(Black Press Media)

Prenatal care remains key amid COVID, B.C. expert says, as U.S. studies show heightened risk

Two U.S. studies point to a higher risk of more severe symptoms, premature birth

A B.C. professor says it’s important for women thinking of getting pregnant during the pandemic to be careful, but that the risks are not high enough to warrant holding off.

Dr. Deborah Money, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology and medicine at the University of B.C.’s School of Population and Public Health, said that two recent studies out of the U.S. Centre for Disease Control can help provide guidance for families north of the border.

“It’s really important information but we have to take it into context,” Money told Black Press Media by phone. “The overall risk for pregnant women who get COVID-19 infection to have a serious problem is very low… but it is important to recognize that this data suggests there may be a slight increased risk of complications for pregnant women versus women who are not pregnant.”

Money’s statements are based on two U.S. studies released in recent days. The first, released Nov. 6, looked at 400,000 women aged 15 to 44 years old with symptomatic cases of COVID-19. An analysis of the data found that “intensive care unit admission, invasive ventilation, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, and death were more likely in pregnant women than in non-pregnant women.” Further, researcher found that pregnant women between 35 and 44 years old with COVID-19 were “nearly four times as likely to require invasive ventilation and twice as likely to die than were non-pregnant women of the same age.”

A second study from the U.S. CDC looked at 3,912 infants born to mothers with COVID-19. Researchers found that 12.9 per cent of these babies were born preterm, defined as earlier than 37 weeks gestation, compared to 10.2 per cent of the general population. Of 610 babies who were tested for COVID-19, 2.6 per cent were positive for the virus and born primary to women infected at the time of delivery.

Among 3,912 infants with known gestational age born to women with SARS-CoV-2 infection, 12.9% were preterm (<37 weeks), higher than a national estimate of 10.2%. Among 610 (21.3%) infants with testing results, 2.6% had positive SARS-CoV-2 results, primarily those born to women with infection at delivery. Studies are also underway in B.C. with the Canadian COVID-19 In Pregnancy Surveillance (CANCOVID-Preg), which is seeking to collect information from prenatal and maternity care experts about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In B.C., an Abbotsford mother is in an induced coma after giving birth to a baby boy after contracting COVID-19. Gill McIntosh first began to feel sick at the start of November and sought medical attention after she took a turn for the worse, becoming nauseated and unable to eat. As of Sunday (Nov. 15), McIntosh is reported to be in stable condition but remains on a ventilator.

READ MORE: Abbotsford mom with COVID-19 still in coma days after giving birth to baby boy

But while the higher risks of pregnancy during the pandemic could be a reason for women to consult with their doctors, Money said that the woman at highest risk – older, with pre-existing conditions like asthma, obesity or diabetes – should already be taking extra precautions, whether or not they were planning to get pregnant.

“We’re not currently recommending they hold back on becoming pregnant, but we’re certainly advising that pregnant women be particularly adherent to the recommendations around physical distancing, masking, hand washing and limiting contacts,” she said.

Something that women’s health experts are particularly concerned with is a trend of pregnant women being wary of visiting health-care professionals for fear of being exposed to the virus.

“That has potential risks for the pregnancy because of the inability to monitor properly,” Money said. For women who do develop COVID-19 while pregnant, Money said they need to be “very watchful” of symptoms, like shortness of breath and chest paint, worsening.

“They must be assessed. They shouldn’t be fearful and staying home [from appointments].”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Joe Robertson and Jack Amos ran the length of Vancouver Island, with the help of their van Pippi, raising more than $12,000 for 1Up Victoria Single Parent Resource Centre. (Photo submitted)
Greater Victoria pair finishes running length of Vancouver Island a day early

Joe Robertson and Jack Amos raised more than $12,000 for single parents

Carmen Robinson was last seen getting off a bus in View Royal the evening of Dec. 8, 1973. Her case remains unsolved 47 years later. (Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)
Gone cold: Fate of View Royal teen remains a mystery, 47 years after her disappearance

Carmen Robinson, 17, was last seen exiting a bus in View Royal in December 1973

A Saanich crash has left many residences in the area without power Thursday morning. (Google Maps)
Early morning crash causes Saanich power outage

Power expected to be restored by 9:30 a.m.

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

Traffic will be affected as View Royal does road work from Dec. 3 to Dec. 5 on the Island Highway at Wilfert Road. (Image courtesy Town of View Royal)
Road work hinders traffic in View Royal on Island Highway at Wilfert Road

Work scheduled for Dec. 3 to 5, weather dependent

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
POLL: Has COVID-19 changed your plans for the holidays?

The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 1

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Janet Austin, the lieutenant-governor of British Columbia, not seen, swears in Premier John Horgan during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Horgan says he will look to fill gaps in the federal government’s sick-pay benefits program aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. premier says province prepared to patch holes in new federal sick-pay benefits

Horgan said workers should not be denied pay when they are preventing COVID-19’s spread

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

(Needpix.com)
Fraudsters projected to use pet scams to gouge over $3M from customers: BBB

The pandemic heavily contributed to the number of puppy scams

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are inviting audiences into their home for ‘A Celtic Family Christmas’. (Submitted)
Natalie MacMaster coming to you through Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Here’s your chance to enjoy the famed fiddler in an online show with her husband Donnell Leahy.

Most Read