Mothers-to-be are at no greater risk of developing severe cases of COVID-19 than the general population, according to a team led by researchers at the University of Oxford.
About 0.5% of all UK pregnant women between March 1 and April 14 were hospitaliSed with COVID-19, according to the study, which hasn't been peer-reviewed or published in a journal. Of 427 who were admitted to hospitals, about one in ten needed intensive care.
Pregnancy has been shown to elevate the risk of severe illness from other viral infections such as influenza, and many countries urge women considering having children to get the annual flu vaccine. Other factors, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, were more likey to raise pregnant women's risk of hospitalization for coronavirus infection, the authors said.
"It's absolutely vital that women continue to attend antenatal appointments to ensure that they and their babies are well," said Gill Walton, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, in a statement. Unicef, the United Nations agency for children, also recommends that parents with infants continue to seek medical support, including routine immunizations.
One in twenty babies born to mothers with Covid-19 tested positive for the disease, and only half of those had a positive test immediately after birth, the study said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended breastfeeding infants where possible, as human milk provides "protection against many illnesses and is the best source of nutrition for most infants."
Researchers from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the University of Leeds, the University of Birmingham, Kings College and Imperial College London also contributed to the study.