CATCHING Covid while pregnant does not raise the risk of stillbirth or baby death, research reveals.
However, a study of more than 4,000 expectant mums who picked up the virus shows they are more likely to have a premature birth.
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The research, led by scientists from Imperial College London and published in the journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, used UK and US data from last year.
Experts found no babies died from Covid in the study – and there was also no increase in risk of stillbirth or low birth weight.
But the odds of having an early delivery went up between 57 and 60 per cent.
Around one in 50 babies born to women with confirmed Covid also tested positive for the virus.
Professor Christoph Lees, senior author of the study from Imperial’s Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction, said: “The finding that Covid infection does not increase the risk of stillbirth or baby death is reassuring.
“However, a suspected or confirmed Covid diagnosis was linked to a higher risk of preterm birth, and it isn’t entirely clear why.”
Of the 1,606 expectant mums in the UK who had suspected or confirmed Covid, 12 per cent had a pre-term delivery.
The national average rate is around 7.5 per cent.
This study supports the prioritisation of vaccination for women who are pregnant or who plan to become pregnant
Professor Christoph Lees
Fellow researcher Dr Ed Mullins, also from Imperial, said: “This study supports the prioritisation of vaccination for women who are pregnant or who plan to become pregnant, and existing measures that protect women in pregnancy from infection, in order to reduce pre-term birth.”
More than 60,000 premature deliveries – kids arriving before 37-weeks – take place in Britain each year.
These tots are at greater risk of dying and more likely to need intensive care.
Professor Fiona Watt, Executive Chair of Medical Research Council, said: “The study’s findings, that there is no increased risk of stillbirth and early neonatal death in women who contracted Covid while pregnant, are reassuring.
“However, the study highlights the need for more research to determine if, or how, Covid affects maternal outcomes or premature birth.”
Twelve of the 4,004 expectant women died in the study.
But experts claim this is a similar mortality rate for Covid infection among the general public – suggesting pregnancy does not raise risk.