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Symptoms for pregnant women with COVID-19 can be prolonged, lasting two months or more for a quarter of women who participated in a national study conducted by UC San Francisco and UCLA.
In the largest study to date of COVID-19 in out-of-hospital pregnant women, researchers analyzed the clinical course and results of 594 women who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus during pregnancy.
They found that the most common early symptoms in pregnant women were cough, sore throat, body ache, and fever. Half of the participants still had symptoms after 3 weeks and 25 percent had symptoms after 8 weeks. The results will appear in Obstetrics and Gynecology on October 7, 2020.
"We found that pregnant people with COVID-19 can expect symptoms for a longer time," said senior author Vanessa L. Jacoby, MD, MAS, vice chair of research in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the UCSF Co-Principal Investigator of the National Pregnancy Study. "COVID-19 symptoms during pregnancy can be long-lasting and have a significant impact on health and well-being."
The PRIORITY study (Pregnancy CoRonavIrus Outcomes RegIsTrY) is an ongoing study in the US for women who are pregnant or have a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 up to 6 weeks after pregnancy. It was launched on March 22, 2020.
While previous research on SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy focused primarily on hospitalized patients, the new analysis focused on outpatients, who make up the vast majority of adults with the virus.
Study participants tested positive between March 22 and July 10 and had an average age of 31 years. Nearly a third of the cases consisted of healthcare workers, and the participants varied geographically: 34 percent lived in the Northeast, 25 percent in the West, 21 percent in the South, and 18 percent in the Midwest.
Thirty-one percent of the participants were Latina and nine percent were black. The mean gestational age at the time of study entry was approximately 24 weeks.
The researchers found several common symptoms of COVID-19, but also that symptoms related to the virus were complicated by overlapping symptoms of normal pregnancy, including nausea, fatigue, and congestion. Their results included the following:
- The first primary symptoms were cough (20 percent), sore throat (16 percent), body pain (12 percent), and fever (12 percent); In comparison, 43 percent of non-pregnant hospital patients have a fever.
- Loss of taste or smell was the first symptom in 6 percent of pregnant women;
- Other symptoms included shortness of breath, runny nose, sneezing, nausea, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, or dizziness;
- Sixty percent of the women had no symptoms after 4 weeks of illness, but 25 percent had symptoms that persisted and lasted for 8 or more weeks.
- The median time to symptom relief was 37 days;
- Conditions of some participants included high blood pressure, pre-pregnancy diabetes, asthma, heart disease, thyroid disease, anxiety, and depression.
The authors said data on the virus's clinical development are critical to assessing risk and managing treatment during pregnancy.
"The majority of the participants in our study population had a mild illness and were not hospitalized," said lead author Dr. med. Yalda Afshar, Assistant Professor in the Department of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Even so, it took an average of 37 days for symptoms to improve."
"Despite the potential risks of COVID-19 for pregnant women and their newborns, there are large gaps in knowledge about disease progression and overall prognosis," she said. "Our results can help pregnant people and their doctors better understand what to expect from COVID-19 infection."
Women's Health: Is It Safe To Get A Flu Shot While Pregnant?
University of California, San Francisco
COVID-19 has a prolonged effect for many during pregnancy (2020, October 7th)
accessed on October 7, 2020
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