COVID-19 during pregnancy is associated with preterm birth:
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According to a large study pregnant individuals who contract COVID-19 face a higher risk of having a very preterm birth, as well as any preterm birth. The risk of very preterm birth, which occurs at less than 32 weeks of gestation, was 60 per cent higher for people infected with COVID-19 at some point in their pregnancy, while the risk of giving birth at less than 37 weeks was 40 per cent higher in those with infection.

For those who also had hypertension, diabetes and/or obesity as well as COVID-19, the risk of preterm birth rose 160 per cent. The study was the first of its kind large enough to identify the risks of COVID-19 by specific subtype of preterm birth, as well as by race, ethnicity, and insurance status. The study data reflected both existing disparities in preterm birth rates for Black, Indigenous and other people of colour (BIPOC) compared to whites, and the known outsized burden of the pandemic on communities of colour.

The researchers analysed all live births between July 2020 and January 2021 documented by California Vital Statistics birth certificates. Of the 240,157 recorded births, nearly 9,000, or 3.7 per cent, indicated a COVID-19 diagnosis in pregnancy. The preterm birth rate among birthing people with a COVID-19 diagnosis was 11.8 per cent compared with 8.7 per cent among those without COVID-19.

The overall sample included 47.2 per cent Latinx, 26.8 per cent white, 4.9 per cent Black, 13.2 per cent Asian, 0.03 per cent American Indian/Alaskan Native, 0.4 per cent Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and 7.3 per cent identified as other, unknown, or two or more races. Forty per cent of people in the study had public insurance at the time they gave birth, and 15.9 per cent had hypertension, diabetes, obesity, or a combination of these.

Having comorbidities along with COVID-19 infection increased the risk of preterm birth. Individuals with hypertension, diabetes and/or obesity as well as a COVID-19 diagnosis had a 160 per cent higher risk of very preterm birth and a 100 per cent higher risk of preterm birth compared to those without comorbidities or COVID-19.

"Researchers found that preterm birth rates didn't vary by whether the births were spontaneous or medically indicated, which may indicate multiple pathways between COVID-19 diagnosis and preterm birth," concluded the team.