(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

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. (Black Press Media files)
Judge hears Langley development case that could end in mayor, councillors booted out of council

The conflict of interest case was launched by local voters a year ago

More than 2,300 BC Hydro customers in Langley were without power as a windstorm moved through the community on Nov. 30, 2020. (BC Hydro)
UPDATE: Power restored to 2,300 hydro customers caused by windstorm Langley

Three separate outages were reported related to weather

Stacey Wakelin is running for a seat on the Langley school board left vacant by Megan Dykeman’s election as MLA (special to Langley Advance Times)
Wakelin announces run for Langley school board

Activist seeks seat left vacant by Megan Dykeman’s election as MLA

The South Surrey ‘Underground House’ includes skylights and just one side ‘window’ – this glass door that leads out to a patio. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey ‘underground house’ set to go up for sale

‘Unassuming’ John Kay-designed home include skylights, just one window

Langley RCMP attended a three-car collision on Saturday, Nov. 28 on 200th Street at 72nd Avenue. They have launched an impaired driving investigation. (Black Press Media files)
Langley driver goes into wrong lane, ends up hitting Jetta, Hummer and median

Saturday’s crash was on the first weekend of the CounterAttack campaign to catch impaired drivers

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

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

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Fatty Legs co-author responds to Abbotsford class assignment on residential schools

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

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

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Harbour seals rest on log booms at Flavelle Mill in Port Hardy. With recent announcements the mill will be getting rid of the log booms, Dr. David Rosen sees an opportunity to study how the disappearance of this highly-frequented refuge for the seals will alter their behaviour in Burrard Inlet. (Photo supplied by David Rosen)
What the heck is going on with marine mamals in Vancouver waterways?

UBC researcher asks why they’re returning, and what role we’re playing

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)
Human remains found off U.S. coast in 2009 identified as Penticton man

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009

Most Read