(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

Hugh Dobbie’s South Surrey-based tech business Yare Media was recently acquired by California’s Visaic Inc. (SFU photo)
South Surrey tech company acquired by California business

Hugh Dobbie founded Yare Media in 2016, and ‘will remain involved’

Fraser Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Newton Elementary School in Surrey, according to an information bulletin Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. (Image: Google Street View)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at second Surrey elementary school

Newton Elementary closed for two weeks, set to reopen Dec. 14

Joy Johnson, seen here during an installation ceremony on Oct. 22, is Simon Fraser University’s 10th president and vice-chancellor. (Submitted photo)
SFU’s Surrey campus tackling COVID-19-related research

‘We can learn now,’ SFU president Joy Johnson said, ‘so should something like this happen again we’ll be prepared. We have to learn from this current pandemic’

Mayor Darryl Walker gives a welcoming hug to Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell at the inaugural meeting of the current White Rock council in 2018. (Alex Browne photo)
White Rock council under fire for inaugural prayer

BC Humanist Association charges city violated Supreme Court ruling two years ago

Chief Robert Gladstone of Shxwha:y Village at a federal flood funding announcement April 24, 2019. (Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress file)
Consortium of Indigenous chiefs seeking a way to participate in cannabis economy

All Nations Chiefs from the Shxwha:y, Cheam, Soowahlie and Sq’ewlets holding online forum Dec. 2

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

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

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

Chilliwack school board trustee Barry Neufeld is taking heat over using a ableist slur to refer to three Black Press employees. (Paul Henderson/ Progress file)
BC School Trustees Association president keeps heat on Chilliwack Trustee Barry Neufeld

In a news release, Stephanie Higginson called on voters to take careful note of Neufeld’s behaviour

Most Read