Exploration into the effects of COVID-19 on pregnancy and childbirth

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UK experts launch project with WHO team offering global insight into the effects of COVID-19 on pregnancy and childbirth.

An online resource bringing together research on the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic on expectant mothers and their babies is set to be launched by maternal health experts from the University of Birmingham this week which could help to inform guidelines and treatment pathways.

What is it looking at?

The PregCOV-19 project, led by the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Global Women’s Health at University of Birmingham, aims to evaluate the rapidly emerging evidence on maternal and offspring outcomes and risks in women with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. The team, from the University’s Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, will combine existing evidence in the form of published primary studies, and update the findings on a regular basis as new information becomes available.

Led by Shakila Thangaratinam, Professor of Maternal and Perinatal health at the University of Birmingham and co-lead of the WHO Collaborative Centre for Global Women’s Health, the project will not only assess the quality of each study but begin to identify global patterns. These patterns could in turn help to shed light on a number of key research questions including the risk of COVID-19 in pregnancy and postpartum, how symptoms of the virus present in pregnancy as well as potential complications for both mother and baby and the risk of mother-to-child transmission either intrauterine, during delivery or after childbirth.

Professor Thangaratinam said: “While there is a remarkably high-volume of evidence on the virus’ effects during pregnancy and postpartum that has emerged in a relatively short space of time, the quality of evidence is varied. Our global collaborative project offers a platform to rapidly integrate new evidence as they emerge through living systematic reviews and to report the key findings.”

“Any recommendation on the care of pregnant and postnatal women who are suspected or confirmed to have the virus should be based on robust evidence which is what we hope to achieve with this project.”

Results

Findings will be shared via an online portal aimed at healthcare professionals and the academic community. The team will conduct regular searches for new evidence, which will be compiled and summarised with key messages shared weekly on the project website.

The website can be accessed by visiting: www.birmingham.ac.uk/pregcov

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