Constantly worrying about contracting COVID-19 while carrying a child is already stressful enough. However, recent studies have shown new dangers for both the mother and the child during childbirth. The optimal time for fetal development is 40 weeks. However, some babies stay in the womb for even longer (up to 42 weeks). However, a recent study revealed that parents who contracted COVID-19 during pregnancy had a higher risk of having a premature baby.
The Results of the Study
The probability of having a premature baby was found to be significantly associated with exposure to COVID-19. Very premature birth (delivery before 32 weeks) and premature birth were the two types of preterm birth identified by the study’s authors (less than 37 weeks). There was a 60% increase in the risk of very preterm birth and a 40% rise in the risk of preterm birth among pregnant patients with COVID-19, the researchers concluded.
When researchers looked at the risk of preterm birth in expectant mothers who also had another health issue, such as hypertension, diabetes, or obesity, the danger found in the study became even more substantial. Extremely premature birth rates were 160% higher in these populations compared to those of pregnant women who had not been exposed to COVID-19.
A disproportionate number of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and Latinx women were affected by COVID-19 and linked to preterm births, similar to the findings of many other studies of maternal complication. Latinx mothers made up 47% of the sample population but 72% of the COVID-19 positive cases.
Unconscious and explicit racial prejudices in the medical system contribute to racial discrepancies in results. Additionally, these areas have restricted access to preventative health measures, including vaccinations and diagnostic tests. Misinformation spread through the media, and worries about the vaccine’s safety contribute to the reluctance to get vaccinated.
Here we see how racism can contribute to structural disadvantage and occupational exposures, resulting in disparities. Inequalities in birth outcomes attributable to racism and biases were already a problem in many areas, but the epidemic brought it into sharp relief. She emphasized that pregnant women of color, specifically Black and Hispanic women, appear to have a higher incidence of COVID-19 infection, obstetrical problems, and death. She emphasizes skepticism among doctors and other medical professionals.
How does COVID-19 cause premature birth?
The exact mechanism by which COVID-19 increases the risk of preterm birth is not fully understood by medical professionals. Both preterm deliveries that are medically induced and those that occur naturally are included in this category.
However, there’s an elevated risk for both spontaneous and provider-initiated preterm births, suggesting a physiological mechanism between COVID-19 infection and premature delivery that needs further investigation. We can’t make out the connection. Infection with the simian virus 19 (COVID-19) has been linked to an increased risk of preterm birth, however, the mechanisms behind this association are not well understood. It is unknown whether COVID-19 is the direct cause of early delivery, however infections can cause preterm labor and birth.
How Does a Premature Delivery Affect the Infant?
Babies born at or after 34 weeks have the same survival rate as full-term newborns despite facing the same health risks as adults. The health of some people may be adversely affected. Infants born prematurely, or even a few weeks early, sometimes face difficulties related to their lungs’ lack of maturity.
Infants born at this early stage face the highest risk of health problems, including respiratory issues and possible hospitalizations in the neonatal intensive care unit. Comorbidities such as hypertension, diabetes, or obesity more than double these risks in pregnant women.
Preterm birth occurs in approximately 10% of newborns regardless of COVID-19. Preterm delivery is more likely to occur in pregnant women who currently have one or more of the following risk factors:
- Multiple pregnancies
- Additional medical conditions
Sometimes doctors are unable to determine why a baby is born prematurely.
Pregnancy-Related COVID-19 Prevention
In the beginning of the vaccines’ availability, doctors weren’t confident enough to advise expecting mothers to get vaccinated. Since the fatal effects of COVID-19 during pregnancy have been documented, the opposite is now true. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is now highly advised by experts for pregnant women.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends vaccination against COVID-19 as the most effective way to lessen the risk of maternal and fetal problems from the virus. The COVID-19 immunization has been found to be safe for use throughout pregnancy, the postpartum period, and while breastfeeding.
Pregnant women with preexisting conditions should take preventative measures like being vaccinated, using face masks, and washing their hands frequently. Consistent prenatal care is especially critical for women with comorbidities like hypertension and diabetes, who need to keep their blood pressure and blood sugar levels under tight control.
The health of pregnant individuals everywhere should be improved so that they face fewer risks and have a better chance of having a healthy baby. It’s important to consider additional precautions that can be taken to prevent COVID-19 infection in pregnant women. Some examples of such public policies are steps to reduce potential dangers, safeguards for pregnant workers, maternity leave, and halts on evictions.
Women can reduce their chances of delivering a premature baby by improving their health before getting pregnant and being vaccinated, but that’s about it.
The Implications of This Finding For You
If you are pregnant, it is recommended that you get vaccinated for the sake of both your health and the health of your unborn child. Recent studies have shown that COVID-19 increases the probability of having a premature or extremely premature baby. This risk increases in the presence of other risk factors like obesity or diabetes. Even if you have COVID-19, it is still crucial that you have regular prenatal care to ensure your health and the health of your unborn child.