Frequent in-person healthcare visits are not an important risk factor for infection with coronavirus in pregnancy, according to a recent study.
One of the foremost concerns that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic is patient avoidance of crucial medical care. This is particularly worrying in obstetrical patients, who require regular in-person check-ups and scans to ensure the wellbeing of both mother and baby.
In a recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers in Massachusetts examined the association between the number of in-person healthcare visits and coronavirus infection in pregnancy. The study was performed in Massachusetts due to the high rates of COVID-19 cases in Boston in the spring of 2020.
The study included 2,968 obstetrical patients who were due for delivery between April and June 2020 at all four hospitals in the Boston, Massachusetts area. All patients were tested for coronavirus infection during pregnancy and at the time of admission for delivery. The study took into account ethnicity, type of insurance, and COVID-19 infection rate in the patients’ zip code. The data was also adjusted for age, body mass index (BMI), and essential worker occupation.
The study reported no significant association between in-person care and the risk of coronavirus infection. A total of 111 patients out of the 2,968 in the study tested positive for the virus at some point during their pregnancy. The average number of visits in patients who tested positive was 3.1, compared to 3.3 in those who tested negative.
The results of the study suggest that vital in-person healthcare visits can be carried out safely, since infection did not appear to be correlated with healthcare settings in this study.
Dr Sharon Reale, who led the research, stated, “One major concern in obstetrics, but also in general medicine, is that patients are avoiding necessary medical care because of fear of contracting COVID-19 in a healthcare setting, but there was no indication that in-person healthcare affects risk of infection.”
This was an important study to help reduce the fears of patients who are apprehensive of attending in-person hospital appointments due to the potential risk of infection. Dr Reale added, “Results will need to be replicated outside of obstetrics, but this should be reassuring and indicate that necessary and important care should be done and can be done safely.”
Written by Albina Babu, MSc
Reale, S.C., et al. (2020). Association between number of in-person health care visits and SARS-CoV-2 infection in obstetrical patients. JAMA.
For pregnant patients, number of clinic visits not tied to risk of getting COVID-19 (2020). Retrieved from: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-08/bawh-fpp081420.php
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