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U of U doctor leading study of effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women

Posted at 12:36 PM, Jun 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 14:36:11-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A doctor at the University of Utah is leading the way in a nationwide research project to study the affects COVID-19 has on women both during and after pregnancy.

University of Utah Health is just one of a dozen health centers participating in the study.

They're all being led by Dr. Torri Metz, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and vice chair for research at U. Health.

The study follows up to 21,000 pregnant women and analyzes their medical records.

"This is something that’s affecting everybody in society right now, across the globe not just in the United States," Dr. Metz said. "And we need to be able to talk to women about what to expect if they are to acquire COVID-19 infection during pregnancy."

It’ll compare pregnant women who are infected with COVID-19 versus those who don’t have the virus.

Researchers will also look to see if changes to healthcare due to the pandemic have resulted in higher rates of pregnancy-related complications compared to women who had a baby at this same time last year.

"We’re also interested in things like is there a higher rate of preterm delivery or women needing cesarean delivery, are they getting very ill and requiring things like intensive care unit admissions,” Dr. Metz said.

The study will look at the risk a pregnant woman has of transmitting it to her baby.

Scientists will track the health of more than 1,500 pregnant women with confirmed cases of COVID-19 for six weeks after they give birth.

"I think it’s going to provide short term answers in terms of what we can tell women about coronavirus and COVID-19 infection," Dr Metz said. "But hopefully it’s also going to provide us with some information about what we can expect when we have any kind of massive change to the way we practice medicine in the United States and how that will affect women and their babies."

The plan is to study women through the end of 2020 and hope to have results by early next year.