Majority of Covid-positive pregnant women are asymptomatic, study suggests

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on December 14, 2020

The majority of Covid-19 positive pregnant women were asymptomatic, according to a study by Mount Sinai researchers.

The study, published in PLOS One, revealed that the pregnant patients who tested positive for the coronavirus were also more likely than those who tested negative to identify as Hispanic.

The study was conducted between March and April this year. The retrospective cross-sectional study of universal screenings for SARS-Cov-2 found that more than one-third of almost 130 pregnant women tested positive for the coronavirus at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York, US.

The majority, 72 per cent, of the pregnant patients who tested positive were asymptomatic, meaning they did not display any symptoms associated with Covid-19.

This is a much higher proportion than reported at other hospitals in New York City during the pandemic surge, and likely related to social inequities experienced by the surrounding population, the study noted.

These findings further corroborated that there was an early and rampant asymptomatic spread of the disease at a time when most community and hospital testing was limited to symptomatic individuals.

Sheela Maru, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Global Health, and Obstetrics, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai said in a statement: “This study is instructive for other labour and delivery units and hospitals across the world as we continue to refine pandemic preparedness.”

Maru added: “In future epidemics, it may be prudent to look at labor and delivery screening numbers much earlier on, as pregnant women continue to seek essential care despite social distancing measures and also represent the generally young and healthy community population."

Dr Maru noted that universal screening in the labour and delivery unit ensured the safety of patients. This can be done through appropriate identification and isolation of pregnant women with positive test results.

Women were roomed by their status and were provided postpartum counselling and follow-up protocols tailored to their specific social needs, Maru said.

Published on December 14, 2020

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