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DeBolt CA, Bianco A, Limaye MA, Silverstein J, Penfield CA, Roman AS, Rosenberg HM, Ferrara L, Lambert C, Khoury R, Bernstein PS, Burd J, Berghella V, Kaplowitz E, Overbey JR, Stone J. Pregnant women with severe or critical COVID-19 have increased composite morbidity compared to non-pregnant matched controls. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2020 Nov 19:S0002-9378(20)31312-0. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2020.11.022. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33221292; PMCID: PMC7677036.

Background: In March 2020, as community spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) became increasingly prevalent, pregnant women appeared to be equally susceptible to developing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). While the disease course usually appears mild, severe and critical COVID-19 appears to lead to significant morbidity including ICU admission with prolonged hospital stay, intubation, mechanical ventilation and even death. Although there are recent reports regarding the impact of COVID-19 on pregnancy, information regarding the severity of COVID-19 in pregnant versus non-pregnant women remains unknown.

Objective: We aim to describe the outcomes of severe and critical COVID-19 infection in pregnant versus non-pregnant reproductive aged women.

Study design: This is a multi-center retrospective case-control study of women with laboratory confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection hospitalized with severe or critical COVID-19 in four academic medical centers in NYC and one in Philadelphia between March 12 and May 5, 2020. The cases consist of pregnant women admitted specifically for severe or critical COVID-19 and not for obstetric indication. The controls consist of reproductive aged, non-pregnant women admitted for severe or critical COVID-19. The primary outcome is a composite morbidity including: death, need for intubation, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), non-invasive positive pressure ventilation or need for high flow nasal cannula oxygen supplementation. Secondary outcomes include ICU admission, length of stay, need for discharge to long term acute care facility and discharge with home oxygen requirement.

Results: Thirty-eight pregnant women with SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) confirmed infection were admitted to five institutions specifically for COVID-19, 29 (76.3%) meeting criteria for severe disease and 9 (23.7%) meeting criteria for critical disease. The mean age and BMI were significantly higher in the non-pregnant control group. The non-pregnant cohort was also noted to have increased frequency of pre-existing medical comorbidities, including diabetes, hypertension and coronary artery disease. Pregnant women were more likely to experience the primary outcome when compared to the non-pregnant control group (34.2% vs. 14.9%, p=0.03, adjusted OR 4.6 [95% CI 1.2-18.2]). Pregnant patients experienced higher rates of ICU admission (39.5% vs. 17.0%, p<0.01, adjusted OR 5.2 [95% CI 1.5-17.5]). Among pregnant women that underwent delivery, 72.7% occurred via cesarean delivery and mean gestational age at delivery was 33.8 ±5.5 weeks in patients with severe disease and 35 ±3.5 weeks in patients with critical COVID-19.

Conclusions: Pregnant women with severe and/or critical COVID-19 are at increased risk for certain morbidities when compared to non-pregnant controls. Despite the higher comorbidities of diabetes and hypertension in the non-pregnant controls, the pregnant cases were at increased risk for composite morbidity, intubation, mechanical ventilation and ICU admission. These findings suggest that pregnancy may be associated with a worse outcome in women with severe and critical COVID-19. Our study suggests that similar to other viral infections such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, pregnant women may be at risk for greater morbidity and disease severity.

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