newborn and mother with mask on / Getty Images

Race & Ethnicity Did Not Affect Outcomes for New Moms with COVID-19, Finds Study

Race and ethnicity did not affect pregnancy and birth outcomes in women with SARS-CoV-2 infection who gave birth at two hospitals in northern Manhattan during the height of the pandemic in New York City, according to a preliminary report from researchers at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian. 

The study—one of the first to examine the impact of race and ethnicity on pregnancy and birth outcomes in women with COVID-19 during the height of the pandemic in New York City—was published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Ukachi Emeruwa, MD
Ukachi Emeruwa

“We did not detect an impact on obstetric complications and symptoms of COVID-19 in different groups of women, though we need to look at a larger group to make more definitive conclusions,” says the report’s first author Ukachi N. Emeruwa, MD, MPH, a postdoctoral clinical fellow in obstetrics and gynecology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. 

Racial and ethnic disparities in health care delivery and outcomes

Racial and ethnic disparities in health care delivery and outcomes have been well-described in most areas of medicine. 

Such disparities have become a flashpoint during the COVID-19 pandemic, with several studies showing that ethnic minorities, including Blacks and Hispanics, have disproportionately higher infection rates and worse outcomes compared with other groups.

However, previous studies have not determined whether obstetric outcomes for pregnant women with COVID-19 vary by race and ethnicity.

What the researchers found

Between March 13 and April 23, 2020, 673 women gave birth at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital or NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital.

Among the first 100 women who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, 73 identified themselves as Hispanic, 10 as non-Hispanic Black, 13 as non-Hispanic white, and four as other. 

Among these patients, Hispanic women were more likely to have SARS-CoV-2: 18% tested positive compared with nearly 13% of Black women and 9% of white women.

All of the groups had fairly similar rates of such conditions as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia and complications, including bacterial infections, preterm delivery, and postpartum bleeding. There were no differences in neonatal outcomes.

Close follow-up care

“Our medical center was among the first in New York City to implement universal SARS-CoV-2 testing among women admitted for delivery and provide more frequent follow-up care for women and newborns with COVID-19,” says the study’s senior author, Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman, MD, MSc, the Ellen Jacobson Levine and Eugene Jacobson Professor of Women’s Health in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and a maternal-fetal medicine expert at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. 

“These measures may explain why we found similar birth outcomes across all ethnic groups, including those from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.” 

Emeruwa and Gyamfi-Bannerman are now conducting a larger study that will compare birth outcomes in women with and without COVID-19 from different ethnic and racial groups.

References

More information

The study is titled “Influence of Race and Ethnicity in Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Rates and Clinical Outcomes in Pregnancy.

The other authors (all from Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian): Jessica Spiegelman, Samsiya Ona, Ka Kahe, Russell S. Miller, Karin M. Fuchs, Janice J. Aubey, Whitney Booker, Mary E. D’Alton, Alexander M. Friedman, Aleha Aziz, Desmond Sutton, Stephanie E. Purisch, Dena Goffman, and Alexander Melamed.

The authors reported the following disclosures:

D’Alton received funds for participating on the advisory board of Merck for Mothers. Gyamfi-Bannerman received funds for participating in the advisory board of Sera Prognostics. 

The other authors report no financial or other conflicts of interest.