A pregnant woman. For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Pregnant women with COVID-19 are at higher risk for being hospitalised and ending up in an intensive-care unit than women who aren't pregnant, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

The CDC is adding pregnancy to the list of health conditions that make COVID-19 patients more likely to suffer severe complications. A study by the agency found pregnant women were 5.4 times more likely to be hospitalised, 1.5 times more likely to be admitted to the ICU and 1.7 times more likely to receive mechanical ventilation. Pregnant women didn't have a higher risk of death, according to the CDC's findings.

As with the general population, Black and Hispanic pregnant women were disproportionately impacted.

The CDC said pregnant women might have a lower threshold for being admitted to the hospital. But ICU admission and use of mechanical ventilation are "distinct proxies for illness severity."

Director Robert Redfield said on a call with reporters that the CDC recommends anyone at higher risk for COVID-19 complications limit contact with others as much as possible.

"We think it's important to get the information out there that pregnant women need to take precautions," Dana Meaney-Delman, CDC's COVID-19 deputy incident manager, said.

The agency wasn't able to assess the effects of the virus on the fetuses or babies born to those women since the pandemic hasn't gone on long enough, but she said she "wouldn't be surprised" if they are at higher risk for preterm birth.