Long COVID impacts 10% of pregnant women, study finds: ‘Take precautions’

Experts aren’t sure why some people get long COVID and some don’t — but a new study explores its prevalence among pregnant women.

At the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s annual meeting in Maryland earlier this month, researchers revealed that roughly one in 10 women who get COVID during pregnancy will develop long COVID.

This was lower than estimates from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which predicted that 23% of pregnant women would experience it.

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The research, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, was part of the RECOVER Initiative, a larger NIH-funded study that focuses on the long-term effects of COVID.

Researchers analyzed 1,503 women from 46 states plus Washington, D.C., who got COVID while they were pregnant, according to a press release.

Nauseous pregnant woman

A new study explores the prevalence of long COVID during pregnancy. (iStock)

More than half were vaccinated before getting the virus

The average age of the women at the time of infection was 32.

Approximately 9.3% of the pregnant women reported having long COVID symptoms six months after contracting the virus.

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The most common symptoms were fatigue, dizziness and “feeling worn out” after physical or mental exertion. 

Pregnant women who suffered from depression, anxiety, obesity or financial struggles were also found to be at a higher risk of long COVID, the study found, as were those who experienced severe symptoms and required oxygen after infection.

Long COVID is a condition in which symptoms of the virus persist for an extended period of time, generally three months or more.

Pregnant woman suffering

The most common symptoms of long COVID were fatigue, dizziness and “feeling worn out” after physical or mental exertion.  (iStock)

Those symptoms can include fatigue, respiratory issues and neurologic deficits (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”).

“The key takeaway for clinicians who are taking care of pregnant patients is that nearly one in 10 people who have COVID during pregnancy still have persistent symptoms six months later,” said the study’s lead author Torri D. Metz, M.D., MS, a maternal-fetal medicine subspecialist at the University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City, in the release.

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“The trimester of infection was not associated with the development of long COVID, so it did not seem to matter when in their pregnancy people were infected.”

Next, the researchers plan to review the health outcomes of the babies who were born to mothers with long COVID.

Woman getting ultrasound

Women who are pregnant and sick with COVID or flu should talk to their physician, a doctor recommended.  (iStock)

Dr. Michael Mina, chief science officer at eMed, a digital health care platform based in Miami, was not involved in the study but said it is another reminder that “COVID is an important infection and one to take seriously, particularly when pregnant.” 

He told Fox News Digital, “Long COVID symptoms can happen to anyone … While the new findings do not suggest that long COVID is more common or more likely in pregnancy, the fact is that when pregnant, it’s important to take precautions both for yourself and the health of your baby.”

“COVID is an important infection and one to take seriously, particularly when pregnant.”

During pregnancy, the body is already in a naturally immunocompromised state, largely to help the fetus survive and thrive within the mother, Mina noted.

“Immunity has to be turned down in pregnancy in order to not inadvertently harm the fetus,” he said. 

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Additionally, the fetus absorbs much of the mother’s antibodies through the placenta, leading to a slight depletion of antibody protection in the pregnant woman, Mina said.

“The amount of immune compromise varies widely from person to person, but sickness during pregnancy is often a bit more risky than [in] a comparable non-pregnant individual,” he went on.

To protect one’s health during pregnancy, Mina advised taking some extra precautions, including vaccination. 

Pregnant woman vaccine

“We’ve seen from years of studying flu vaccines that vaccination can be beneficial in protecting both mom and baby,” a doctor said. (iStock)

“We’ve seen from years of studying flu vaccines that vaccination can be beneficial in protecting both mom and baby,” he said.

As with influenza, Mina said, COVID can do a lot of harm to the body.

“It’s important to take it seriously,” he said. 

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Women who are pregnant and sick with COVID or flu should talk to their physician, the doctor recommended. 

“Treatment for both has been shown to be safe during pregnancy,” he said. 

Fox News Digital reached out to the study researchers for additional comment.

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

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