(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

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Cases have gone up in Northern Health in the past week, as they have all over B.C. (K-J Millar/Black Press Media)
Northern Health reports new highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

Nineteen cases were reported to Public Health last Tuesday (Nov. 17)

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

(Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared Thursday.
COVID-19 outbreak at LNG Canada Project site

14 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 at this time

A man has been arrested after a Nov. 11 break and enter at the Sandspit Airport, Queen Charlotte RCMP said in a media release on. Nov 17. (Black Press Media files)
Man arrested after Nov. 11 break and enter at local airport

Queen Charlotte RCMP investigate recent spate of break and enters

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Pamela Wright, a UNBC professor in the department of ecosystem science and management, is presented with the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership - Professor, at a virtual ceremony today (Nov. 24) in recognition of her collaborative work with community partners and students to conserve Canada’s northern lands. (Photo submitted by Mitacs)
UNBC professor recieves prestigeous conservation award

Pamela Wright recognized for leadership in ‘breakthrough’ work on northern issues

Pamela Wright, a UNBC professor in the department of ecosystem science and management, is presented with the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership - Professor, at a virtual ceremony today (Nov. 24) in recognition of her collaborative work with community partners and students to conserve Canada’s northern lands. (Photo submitted by Mitacs)
UNBC professor receives prestigious conservation award

Pamela Wright recognized for leadership in ‘breakthrough’ work on northern issues

Most Read