What effects does COVID-19 have on mothers during pregnancy?

Pregnant, Mother, Body, Pregnant Woman, Pregnancy

Bottom Line:

Pregnant women presenting with severe COVID-19 infections are at risk for pregnancy complications related to high blood pressure and abnormal kidney and liver functions.


Mendoza, M. et al. Preeclampsia‐like syndrome induced by severe COVID‐19: a prospective observational study. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology (2020). https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-0528.16339

Date Published:

1 June 2020


A serious complication associated with pregnancy is preeclampsia (PE), characterized by high blood pressure and organ damage (specifically to the kidneys and liver). Clinical features of PE have been observed among mothers infected with the COVID-19 virus, which may lead to misdiagnoses due to similarities in symptom presentation. Thus, it is important to differentiate between actual preeclampsia and PE-related features related to COVID-19. In this study, pregnant patients with COVID-19 were separated into two groups: severe (8 patients) and non-severe (34 patients) infections. Diagnostic criteria for PE were found in six of the women; all being among the severe COVID-19 cases. In addition to hypertension and abnormal liver and kidney function, 5/6 mothers demonstrated normal findings of specific biochemical (i.e. sFlt-1/PlGF, LDH) and ultrasonographic assessments thereby differentiating these cases from actual PE. Furthermore, four of the mothers in the severe category underwent Cesarean delivery. Following infection recovery, blood pressure returned to normal in all severe cases. Though a larger cohort is required to elucidate these findings, pregnant women with severe COVID-19 may develop a preeclampsia-like syndrome that may be distinguished from actual PE by normal findings of specific biochemical and ultrasonographic testing.

Summary by: Edwin Wong