Tommy's PregnancyHub

Major study shows that pregnant women are not at greater risk of severe coronavirus

A large UK study has found that pregnant women are no more likely to become severely ill with COVID-19 than other women.

Researchers from Oxford University looked at 427 pregnant women who were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 between March 1 and April 14.

They found fewer than 0.5% of all pregnant women were admitted to hospital with the disease, and only around 1-in-10 of those needed intensive care. In total, five pregnant women with coronavirus sadly died during this period, but it is unclear at this stage if coronavirus was the cause of death.

This suggested that pregnant women are at no greater risk of severe COVID-19 than the wider population.

It also found that:

  • most women who did become severely ill with Covid-19 were in their third trimester
  • most women delivered their baby at full-term
  • 1 in 20 babies born to the mothers in the study tested positive for COVID-19, but only half of these positive tests were immediately after birth. This suggests transmission of infection from mother to baby is low.

The study also found that some pregnant women were more like to be hospitalised with coronavirus, including women who:

  • are from minority ethnic groups
  • are older
  • are overweight or obese
  • have other health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

It is important to note that this study has not been peer reviewed yet. This means that it has not been vetted for quality of research and importance by experts in the field. Nonetheless, the study does support the current guidance in place for pregnant women. 

The UKOSS study is being conducted by the University of Oxford with input from key partners, such as the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:

“We will continue to work closely with the Government, the Royal College of Midwives, the UKOSS study, and other key partners to continually review the latest evidence as it emerges and update our clinical guidance for pregnant women, and the health professionals who look after them, to ensure the very best care during this pandemic."

Tommy’s midwife Sophie says:

“While studies like this may be reassuring to some, we understand that many pregnant women may be feeling anxious, particularly if they are from a BAME background, or have an underlying health condition. Our advice is to keep following the current guidelines and take the necessary precautions to avoid infection. This means avoiding unnecessary contact with people and going out of the house, except in special circumstances, especially from 28 weeks of pregnancy. If you think you may have symptoms of COVID-19 you should use the NHS 111 online service for information, or NHS 24 if in Scotland. Tell them if you believe you are at higher risk of complications. If you feel your symptoms are worsening or if you are not getting better you should contact your maternity care team, your GP, or use the NHS 111 online service / NHS 24 for further information and advice. In an emergency, call 999.”