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1 in 10 pregnant people with COVID develop long COVID within 6 months

Numerous study participants reported having malaise, fatigue and dizziness six months after their initial COVID infection.
1 in 10 pregnant people with COVID develop long COVID within 6 months
Posted at 12:30 PM, Feb 13, 2024

As researchers learn more about the effects of long COVID, a new study indicates that about 1 out of 10 people who contract COVID-19 during pregnancy will develop long COVID symptoms.

According to the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, 9.3% of pregnant people who got COVID had developed long COVID when evaluated six months or more after their initial infection. Common symptoms include feeling worn out after minor physical or mental activity, including malaise, fatigue and dizziness. 

The study also found that those who were obese, experiencing depression or chronic anxiety or having difficulty paying bills were at a greater risk of developing long COVID. 

The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine presented the findings Monday at its annual conference.

“The key takeaway for clinicians who are taking care of pregnant patients is that nearly 1 in 10 people who have COVID during pregnancy still have persistent symptoms six months later,” says the study’s lead author Dr. Torri D. Metz, maternal-fetal medicine subspecialist at the University of Utah Health. “The trimester of infection was not associated with the development of long COVID, so it did not seem to matter when in their pregnancy people were infected.” 

The new study was part of the National Institutes of Health's RECOVER Initiative. On Tuesday, the NIH announced it is investing $515 million over the next four years to study the effects of long COVID. 

"RECOVER findings, including the identification of major symptom clusters, are helping clinical researchers broaden the identification of Long COVID in their patients and ultimately helping to inform diagnosis, treatment and care for all those suffering from Long COVID," wrote Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, director of the National Institutes of Health. "Findings from across RECOVER, including cohort, pathobiology and electronic health record studies and valuable input from RECOVER patient representatives, have collectively informed the design of RECOVER clinical trials and the selection of at least 13 potential interventions and combination of interventions, four of which began last year."

SEE MORE: Newest COVID shots are 54% effective in preventing symptoms, CDC finds

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said there are nearly 200 known symptoms associated with long COVID. Marrazzo replaced Dr. Anthony Fauci as NIAID's director in 2023.

"We know the potential for infection-associated chronic conditions to last for years. So, we shouldn’t underestimate the potential for Long COVID to do the same. This means that finding treatments and continuing to study our cohort of participants are both very important," she said. "RECOVER must commit to both longer-term follow up studies of Long COVID patients to better understand the condition and find effective treatments for those who are suffering."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists 19 different ailments as common long COVID symptoms. The symptoms can range from prolonged coughs and fevers, symptoms common in primary COVID infections, to neurologic and cardiovascular symptoms.

Many people with long COVID complain of persistent fatigue, drowsiness and brain fog.

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