How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted pregnant women? Find out with this recap of some of the posters presented at the virtual 2021 American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Annual Clinical and Scientific Meeting.
To learn more about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted pregnant women, here’s a review of some of the posters presented at the virtual 2021 American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Annual Clinical and Scientific Meeting.
Incidence of Post-Partum Depression in SARS-CoV-2 Positive Mothers Who Underwent Maternal-Neonatal Separation, by Ana Collins
Bonding between the mother and newborn baby is an essential part of the postpartum process, but at the beginning of the pandemic, it was unclear whether maternal-neonatal transmission of COVID-19 was possible.
That’s why initial guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended a minimum 6-feet distance between mothers who tested positive for COVID-19 and their newborn infant.
To find out how these guidelines affected the incidence of postpartum depression, a retrospective cohort study of 224 women who delivered their babies between March 18th to May 12th, 2020 was conducted. Of the 224 women in the study, 58 tested positive for COVID-19 and were separated from their infant per the guidelines.
Using scores from the Patient Health Questionnaire 2 and Patient Health Questionnaire 9 that were completed at patients’ 6-week postpartum visit, the study found that 10.3 percent of mothers with COVID-19 suffered from postpartum depression while only 2.4 percent of mothers who tested negative for COVID-19 were diagnosed with postpartum depression.
Despite the limitation that a significant number of participants were lost due to non-compliance with the 6-week postpartum visit, the study concluded that maternal-neonatal separation increased the incidence of postpartum depression.
The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Women Seeking Care for Ectopic Pregnancies, by Dr. Helen Toma
Healthcare professionals across a range of specialties are seeing a troubling trend in which patients delay care due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this trend is often seen among pregnant women.
To dive deeper, a retrospective analysis of 127 cases compared the rates of ruptured ectopic pregnancies requiring surgical intervention that occurred pre-COVID (90 cases between March 2019 and February 2020) and after the announcement that declared COVID-19 was a pandemic (37 cases between March 2020 and July 2020).
The primary outcome was the rate of ruptured ectopic pregnancies between those two timeframes, and secondary outcomes were hemoperitoneum, blood transfusions, change in pre and post hemoglobin levels.
So what were the results? Once COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, the rate of ruptured ectopic pregnancies was 81.1 percent versus 60 percent pre-COVID. Both the mean millimeters of hemoperitoneum and the rate of blood transfusion were also significantly higher during the COVID-19 period (81.1 percent versus 60 percent and 21.6 percent versus 7.8 percent, respectively).
These results support what many healthcare professionals already fear: that women may be delaying care due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Review of Unplanned Pregnancy & Access to Family Planning Services Following Natural Disasters & Pandemics, by Savanna Kumar
Much literature already exists that points to the fact that following a natural disaster, patients’ access to family planning services dwindles.
So to learn how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted this accessibility as well as the rates of unplanned pregnancy, a PRISMA review of 14 papers examining a total of 964,237 women who were affected by natural disasters or pandemics was conducted. Rates of unintended pregnancy was the primary outcome, and the use of contraception, short interval pregnancy, and access to reproductive services were the secondary outcomes.
Based on this review, the rates of unplanned pregnancy significantly increase among women exposed to pandemics or natural disasters while the use of contraception and reproductive services decreases along with the rates of short-interval pregnancies.
The authors note that the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on accessibility to family planning services and unplanned pregnancies won’t be known for years to come, but in the meantime, obstetrician-gynecologists should be aware of the impacts of natural disasters and pandemics and find ways to communicate with patients through telehealth and educate them about the available contraceptive options and family planning services.