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Rate of long COVID may be lower in pregnant people, study suggests

By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay News
A little more than 9% of pregnant women developed long COVID six or more months after their initial infection, according to a new study. Photo by Adobe Stock/HealthDay News
A little more than 9% of pregnant women developed long COVID six or more months after their initial infection, according to a new study. Photo by Adobe Stock/HealthDay News

Nearly 1 in every 10 women infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy will go on to develop long COVID, a new study says.

A little more than 9% of pregnant women developed long COVID six or more months after their initial infection, according to findings presented Monday at a meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in National Harbor, Md.

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The most common symptoms included fatigue, dizziness and post-exertional malaise, a worn-out feeling after even minor physical or mental activity.

For the study, researchers followed more than 1,500 women from 46 states and Washington D.C., who caught COVID-19 while pregnant.

Slightly more than half (51%) were fully vaccinated before contracting COVID-19, researchers said. The average age at infection was about 32 years old.

Researchers found other factors that increased a pregnant woman's risk for long COVID, including:

  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Chronic anxiety
  • Financial stress

Women with a more severe case of COVID-19 or who required oxygen while sick also were at higher risk of long COVID, researchers said.

"The key takeaway for clinicians who are taking care of pregnant patients is that nearly 1 in 10 people who have COVID during pregnancy still have persistent symptoms six months later," lead researcher Dr. Torri Metz, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City, said in a news 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," she added.

These results seem to indicate that the rate of long COVID is lower in pregnant people than in non-pregnant adults, when compared to the findings in other studies, researchers said.

"That could be due to a number of reasons that are worth investigating in the future," Metz said.

Researchers next plan to look at the outcomes of infants born of expecting moms who developed long COVID.

Findings presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

Johns Hopkins Medicine has more about COVID and pregnancy.

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