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Pregnant women with gestational diabetes more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19, according to CDC report

The report, co-authored by HealthPartners Institute researcher, also showed that pregnant women hospitalized with COVID-19 had higher rates of preterm birth and stillbirth

September 16, 2020

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — New data published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows that pregnant women who were hospitalized for COVID-19 had higher rates of obesity and gestational diabetes compared to pregnant women with asymptomatic COVID-19 hospitalized for other reasons related to their pregnancy.

The data was collected from HealthPartners and seven additional health systems in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Wisconsin during March through May of this year.

“Based on these findings, COVID-19 might confer unique risks to pregnant women, especially if they have certain underlying conditions,” said Elyse Kharbanda, MD, co-author of the study and HealthPartners Institute investigator. “There is still a lot we don’t know about how COVID-19 impacts pregnant women and their babies, which is why are looking at this population.”

Researchers identified 105 hospitalizations involving pregnant women who had COVID-19. Fifty-nine percent of the pregnant women were hospitalized for reasons related to pregnancy. Upon admission, routine testing showed the virus was present, though they were asymptomatic.

Forty-one percent of the pregnant women were hospitalized because of COVID-19. Many of these women were obese prior to pregnancy or had developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

Notably, among all of the pregnant women who were hospitalized, regardless of symptoms, 12.2 percent of live births were preterm, which is when a child is delivered before 37 weeks. Typical rates of preterm birth within the participating health systems are around 6 percent. In addition, 3.2 percent of pregnancies ended in stillbirth. Typically rates of stillbirth within this population are about 0.6 percent.

Obesity and gestational diabetes are risk factors for both preterm and stillbirths. However, Kharbanda says the high rates of stillbirths warrant additional investigation.

“This data should be interpreted with caution, given our small sample size,” she said. “But, it is concerning. More research on the topic is needed.”

In the meantime, Kharbanda stresses the importance of everyone working to prevent the spread of this virus to help keep vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, from developing COVID-19.

About HealthPartners Institute

HealthPartners Institute is part of HealthPartners, the largest consumer-governed, non-profit health care organization in the nation with a mission to improve health and well-being in partnership with members, patients and the community. HealthPartners Institute supports this mission through research, education and practice. The Institute annually conducts 400+ research studies and trains 700+ medical residents and fellows and 1,200+ medical and advanced practice students. Its integration with HealthPartners’ hospitals, clinics and health plan strengthens the Institute’s ability to discover and develop evidence-based solutions and translate them into practice. Based in Minneapolis, the Institute’s work impacts care, health and well-being across the region and nation as well as internationally. Visit for more information.

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