By Robert Preidt
Researchers analyzed data from a coronavirus screening program in the labor and delivery unit at Elmhurst Hospital in New York in March and April.
Of the 130 pregnant women screened, a third have tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Of the women who tested positive, 72% had no symptoms of COVID-19, according to the Mount Sinai Health System study. It was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.
The study also found that women who tested positive were more likely to identify as Hispanic and report Spanish as their primary language.
The results provide further evidence of the early, widespread asymptomatic spread of the virus as most community and hospital testing was limited to people with symptoms, the researchers said.
“This study is instructive for others labor and delivery units and hospitals around the world as we continue to refine pandemic preparation, ”said researcher Dr. Sheela Maru, assistant professor of global health and obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Icahn School of Medicine in Mount Sinai in New York.
“In future outbreaks, it may be prudent to look at labor and delivery screening figures much earlier, as pregnant women continue to seek essential care despite social distancing measures and also represents the general young and healthy population of the community, ”Maru said in a press release from Mount Sinai.
Researchers noted that the infection rate among pregnant women in Elmhurst was higher than in other New York City hospitals during the city’s pandemic outbreak in the spring, and this was likely due to the type of patients seen in hospital.
Elmhurst is a public hospital that largely serves immigrant and low-income patients who were severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic in the spring, the study’s authors explained.
They noted that universal screening at the Elmhurst Labor and Delivery Unit ensured patient and staff safety through the identification and isolation of pregnant women who tested positive for the coronavirus.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19 and pregnancy.
SOURCE: Mount Sinai Health System, press release, December 11, 2020