The Express muddles up the dangers of Covid-19 in pregnancy

27 April 2021
What was claimed

Pregnant women are 22 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than other women.

Our verdict

This muddles the results of a study, which in fact found that Covid increases the risk of death in women who are pregnant.

An article in the print edition of Monday’s Daily Express says in its first line: “Pregnant women are 22 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than other women.”

This muddles up what the study it reports was all about. The study described in the article compared the risks for pregnant women who caught Covid with pregnant women who didn’t catch Covid.

It didn’t look at the risk of Covid for pregnant women compared to women who weren’t pregnant, as the Express suggests.

The study found that pregnant women with Covid were around 22 times more likely to die than pregnant women without Covid. Because of the small numbers involved, this figure is highly uncertain, however.

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, compares the outcomes of pregnancy for 2,130 women around the world. A third of them had been diagnosed with Covid (generally towards the end of their pregnancy), and two thirds had not.

It found increased rates of death and serious health problems among the women who had Covid. The study says: “These deaths were concentrated in institutions from less developed regions, implying that when comprehensive ICU services are not fully available, COVID-19 in pregnancy can be lethal.”

Professor Aris Papageorghiou of Oxford University, who is quoted in the Express article, explained his findings in a press statement to accompany the study. He said: “the risk of dying during pregnancy and in the postnatal period was 22 times higher in women with COVID-19 than in the non-infected pregnant women.”

Other research is not completely clear how much higher the risk of catching Covid is for pregnant women or their babies.

A review of the early evidence suggested that pregnant women are less likely than other women to have any symptoms if they are infected with Covid, but also more likely to experience severe disease. Death from any cause among pregnant women with Covid was still very unusual.

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