Severity of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Pregnancy in Ontario: A Matched Cohort Analysis


Clinical Infectious Diseases



Pregnancy represents a physiological state associated with increased vulnerability to severe outcomes from infectious diseases, both for the pregnant person and developing infant. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic may have important health consequences for pregnant individuals, who may also be more reluctant than non-pregnant people to accept vaccination.


We sought to estimate the degree to which increased severity of SARS-CoV-2 outcomes can be attributed to pregnancy using a population-based SARS-CoV-2 case file from Ontario, Canada. Due to varying propensity to receive vaccination, and changes in dominant circulating viral strains over time, a time-matched cohort study was performed to evaluate the relative risk of severe illness in pregnant women with SARS-CoV-2 compared to other SARS-CoV-2 infected women of childbearing age (10 to 49 years old). Risk of severe SARS-CoV-2 outcomes was evaluated in pregnant women and time-matched non-pregnant controls using multivariable conditional logistic regression.


Compared to the rest of the population, non-pregnant women of childbearing age had an elevated risk of infection (standardized morbidity ratio (SMR) 1.28), while risk of infection was reduced among pregnant women (SMR 0.43). After adjustment for confounding pregnant women had a markedly elevated risk of hospitalization (adjusted OR 4.96, 95% CI 3.86 to 6.37) and ICU admission (adjusted OR 6.58, 95% CI 3.29 to 13.18). The relative increase in hospitalization risk associated with pregnancy was greater in women without comorbidities than in those with comorbidities (P for heterogeneity 0.004).


Given the safety of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in pregnancy, risk-benefit calculus strongly favours SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in pregnant women.

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