Recommendations for Pregnant Members of Dermatology Health Care Teams During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Jose W. Ricardo, MD; Shari R. Lipner, MD, PhD


Cutis. 2021;107(5):273-275. 

In This Article

Risks to Pregnant HCWs

Worldwide, viral pneumonia is a leading cause of death during pregnancy,[3] with higher mortality documented among pregnant patients during the 1918 influenza pandemic and the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome–associated coronavirus pandemic,[3] and an increased rate of hospital admission documented among these patients compared to the general population during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.[4]

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that pregnant women with symptomatic COVID-19 (n=30,415) are at increased risk for the following (compared to nonpregnant women with symptomatic COVID-19 [n=431,410])[5]:

  • Admission to the intensive care unit (10.5 of every 1000 cases vs 3.9 of every 1000 cases; adjusted risk ratio [aRR]=3.0; 95% CI, 2.6-3.4)

  • Receipt of invasive ventilation (2.9 of every 1000 cases vs 1.1 of every 1000 cases; aRR=2.9; 95% CI, 2.2-3.8)

  • Receipt of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (0.7 of every 1000 cases vs 0.3 of every 1000 cases; aRR=2.4; 95% CI, 1.5-4.0)

  • Death (1.5 of every 1000 cases vs 1.2 of every 1000 cases; aRR=1.7; 95% CI, 1.2-2.4).

Although the absolute risk of severe COVID-19–related outcomes is low, the CDC includes pregnant women in its increased risk category for COVID-19. Furthermore, in a systematic review of 61 studies comprising 790 COVID-19–positive pregnant women and 548 newborns, the rates of cesarean delivery, premature birth, low birth weight, and adverse pregnancy events (the latter comprising preterm birth, death or stillbirth, and early termination of pregnancy) were estimated to be 72%, 23%, 7%, and 27%, respectively.[6] In a systematic review of 39 studies (case series and cohort studies), comprising 936 SARS-CoV-2–tested newborns of mothers with COVID-19, mother-to-fetus transmission of SARS-CoV-2 occurred during the third trimester in approximately 3.2% of infected mothers.[7]

In pregnant women with COVID-19 who develop cytokine storm syndrome, a fetal inflammatory response syndrome can ensue, which has been shown to cause ventricular expansion and bleeding in animal models.8 In addition, underlying conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, pre-existing lung disease, and obesity, which are well-established risks factors for severe COVID-19 in nonpregnant patients, can increase the severity of COVID-19 in pregnant women.[5,9,10,11]