As the pandemic progresses, we are learning more about COVID-19 and its effects on pregnancy. A recent study conducted by researchers in Ontario, including CITF-funded researcher Dr. Deshayne Fell from the University of Ottawa and the CHEO Research Institute, sought to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected pregnancy outcomes at a population level. The results were recently published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica.

The authors conducted a living systematic reviewA living systematic review is a document that is up-dated regularly (~every 3 months) to incorporate new publications using the same search strategy. and meta-analysis of studies reporting pregnancy and neonatal outcomes, comparing the pandemic period to pre- pandemic periods. The authors analyzed 37 studies from 18 countries comparing roughly 1.6 million pregnancies during the pandemic period to roughly 21 million pregnancies in the pre-pandemic period. Their findings will help inform clinical practices regarding this priority population as well as health service delivery.

Key Findings:

  • There was a reduction in both spontaneous and induced preterm births during the pandemic.
  • There were no observed differences in the proportion of stillbirths when comparing pandemic and pre-pandemic periods.
  • A slight increase in birthweight was observed during the pandemic period.
  • Reduced access to care may be an issue for pregnant individuals in many regions of the world.

As this is a living review, more data will be added as it arises. New data will also help flesh out the lived experiences of pregnant people in the COVID-10 pandemic era. The authors emphasize that studies in diverse regions affected by COVID-19 are needed to gain better understanding of healthcare access, healthcare availability, and other factors that may contribute to adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Yang J, D’Souza R, Kharrat A, Fell DB, Snelgrove JW, Murphy KE, Shah P.. COVID‐19 pandemic and population‐level pregnancy and neonatal outcomes: a living systematic review and meta‐analysis. Acta Obstet et Gynecol Scand 2021;100:1756–70. doi:10.1111/aogs.14206