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Delta Variant May Increase Risk for Poor Pregnancy Outcomes

Experts recommend COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women to mitigate severe perinatal morbidity, mortality

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THURSDAY, Oct. 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- The delta variant of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 is associated with increased critical illness in pregnancy and adverse perinatal outcomes, according to a research letter published online Sept. 30 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Angela R. Seasely, M.D., from University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues examined differences in perinatal outcomes before (March 22, 2020, to May 31, 2021) and after (July 1, 2021, to August 18, 2021) the emergence of the delta variant. The analysis included pregnant patients with COVID-19 seen at a single institution from March 22, 2020, to August 18, 2021 (224 in the pre-delta period and 69 in the delta period).

The researchers found that August 2021 (only through Aug. 18) had the highest overall number of patients admitted per month to both the intensive care unit and inpatient units. The screen-positive rate (percent positive/all patients tested on admission) increased on average from 3 percent in the pre-delta period to 15 percent in the delta period. In the delta time period, there were increased proportions of severe-critical disease (adjusted risk ratio, 2.76) and intensive care unit admissions (adjusted risk ratio, 3.42). There were also significant increases in the need for respiratory support, intubation, and pharmacologic treatment. The delta period was also associated with increased rates of cesarean delivery, preterm birth, and neonatal intensive care unit admission. Results were similar when limited to patients who received prenatal care at the same institution.

"We emphasize recommendations from the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to vaccinate all pregnant patients to mitigate severe perinatal morbidity and mortality," the authors write.

One author disclosed that money was paid to his institution from Pfizer for COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus vaccines in pregnancy studies.

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