NIH investigating pregnancy outcomes resulting from COVID-19
The NIH recently launched a multipronged study to investigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic during and after pregnancy, according to a press release.
“Our findings will have the potential to shape pregnancy care now and during future pandemics or other similar public health crises,” Diana W. Bianchi, MD, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, told Healio Primary Care.
The NIH said that in the first part of the study, researchers will analyze the medical records of up to 21,000 women to assess whether changes to health care delivery during the pandemic resulted in higher rates of pregnancy-related complications, cesarean delivery and the risk for pregnant women with COVID-19 infection of transmitting the virus to their fetus. Newborns will be monitored and assessed until they are sent home from the hospital. The second part of the study will observe the health of more than 1,500 pregnant women with confirmed COVID-19 infection for 6 weeks after childbirth.
Researchers will also assess participants’ demographic characteristics, medical history, hospital, health care system and community-level factors associated with pregnancy complications and death during the pandemic, Bianchi said.
The study’s results will provide useful information to the health care community, she added.
“If there is an increase in pregnancy complications and death during this time, both researchers and practitioners would need to examine potential contributing factors to raise awareness should a similar public health crisis occur in the future,” Bianchi said. “In addition, the investigation into the anticipated complications for moms and babies with COVID-19 infection, compared with those without infection, will allow providers to appropriately counsel reproductive aged women who contract this virus in the future. If we find a relationship between COVID-19 infection and common pregnancy complications, there may also be opportunities for prevention.”
The study is taking place at the dozen clinical centers that are part of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network. It is expected to be completed by spring 2021, a NIH spokesperson told Healio Primary Care. – by Janel Miller
Disclosure: Bianchi is director of National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.