Here’s some reassuring news for pregnant women: In-person doctor visits don’t appear to make them vulnerable to COVID-19, a new study indicates.
It included thousands of Massachusetts women who had babies at four Boston-area hospitals between April 19 and June 27, 2020.
In the spring of 2020, there was a surge in COVID-19 cases in the Boston area, so the hospitals tested all pregnant women for the coronavirus upon admission. At the time, Massachusetts had the third highest rate of coronavirus infection in the country.
An analysis of the hospitals’ data showed that of the nearly 3,000 pregnant women tested, 111 were positive for the new coronavirus.
On average, women who tested positive had 3.1 in-person health care visits, while women who tested negative attended an average of 3.3 in-person visits.
There was no meaningful association between in-person visits and coronavirus infection among the women, according to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital study published Aug. 14 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“One major concern in obstetrics, but also in general medicine, is that patients are avoiding necessary medical care because of fear of contracting COVID-19 in a health care setting, but there was no indication that in-person health care affects risk of infection,” said study lead author Dr. Sharon Reale, an attending anesthesiologist at Brigham and Women’s.
“Our study provides important evidence that we can do in-person visits safely. Our findings should be reassuring for our obstetrical patients that when they come to the hospital for appointments, they are not increasing their risk of infection,” Reale said in a hospital news release.
While virtual visits are fine for some patients, many pregnant women require multiple, in-person visits for measurements, exams and lab tests to ensure the health of both mother and baby or babies, the researchers noted.
“Results will need to be replicated outside of obstetrics, but this should be reassuring and indicate that necessary and important care should be done and can be done safely,” Reale said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on pregnancy and COVID-19.
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