Pregnant women with COVID-19 found to develop moderate to severe symptoms at twice the rate of nonpregnant women

Pregnant women infected with the novel coronavirus have developed moderate to severe symptoms at about twice the rate of nonpregnant women, according to a Japanese research team.

The research team was made up of Japanese institutes, including the National Center for Child Health and Development. The research results were released via a U.S. medical journal on Tuesday.

The researchers analyzed 1,122 women who met certain conditions, such as age and history of chronic illness, based on data collected on women aged 15 to 44 who were hospitalized from January 2020 to April 2021.

They found that the rate of pregnant women developing moderate to severe symptoms was 9.6%, about twice the rate of nonpregnant women (4.9%).

According to their further detailed study of infected pregnant women, many of those who developed moderate to severe symptoms had chronic diseases, such as diabetes, or were in the second trimester of pregnancy.

Pregnant women are often infected by family members. Kensuke Shoji, chief of the division of infectious diseases at the center, said, “Not only pregnant women but also their family members need to take thorough measures against infections.”

Smoking makes it worse

The likelihood of people who have a history of tobacco use developing severe symptoms when infected with the novel coronavirus, compared to the chances for nonsmokers, was 50% greater for men and 90% greater for women, a research team of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine announced Tuesday.

The team focused on about 17,000 COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized from January 2020 to February 2021, analyzing their history of smoking and the severity of their symptoms.

By chronic illnesses, the risk of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) developing severe COVID-19 symptoms was twice as great for men and eight times as great for women. The risk for those with congestive heart failure was triple for men and double for women.

Yumi Matsushita of the center’s department of clinical research said, “It is believed that developing various diseases that are caused by smoking leads to an increase in the risk of severe [COVID] symptoms.”