A national study led by researchers at UCLA and UC San Francisco has shed greater light on how COVID-19 affects pregnant women. The Pregnancy CoRonavIrus Outcomes RegIsTrY (PRIORITY) study analyzed the clinical course and outcomes of 594 women who tested positive for the novel coronavirus during pregnancy.
While previous research on SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy has primarily centered on hospitalized patients, the new analysis focused on ambulatory patients, who represent the overwhelming majority of adults with the virus. The study, which is the largest COVID-19 study among non-hospitalized pregnant women to date, showed that symptoms for pregnant women with COVID-19 can be prolonged, lasting two months or longer, as evidenced by a quarter of the women who participated in this study.
The study also found that the most common early symptoms for pregnant women were cough, sore throat and body aches. Half of the participants still had symptoms after three weeks, and 25% had symptoms after eight weeks. “The majority of participants in our study population had mild disease and were not hospitalized,” says Yalda Afshar, MD (FEL ’19), PhD, assistant professor-in-residence of obstetrics and gynecology. “Even so, it took a median of 37 days for symptoms to ease.”
The study authors noted that symptoms related to the virus were complicated by overlapping symptoms of normal pregnancy, including nausea, fatigue and congestion. “Pregnancy in and of itself makes significant changes to the physiology of the body,” Dr. Afshar says. “In fact, pregnant women are considered immune-compromised. An infection on top of that results in a potentially very different scenario for both mom and baby. We wanted to have data relevant to women, for women, so we can take care of them better.”
The PRIORITY study is an ongoing study for women who are pregnant or up to six weeks postpartum and have a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19.
— Alana Prisco
“Clinical Presentation of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Pregnant and Recently Pregnant People,” Obstetrics & Gynecology, December 2020