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COVID-19 prevalence, symptoms, and sociodemographic disparities in infection among insured pregnant women in Northern California

Research on COVID-19 during pregnancy has mainly focused on women hospitalized for COVID-19 or other reasons during their pregnancy. Little is known about COVID-19 in the general population of pregnant women. To describe the prevalence of COVID-19, symptoms, consequent healthcare use, and possible sources of COVID-19 exposure among a population-based sample of pregnant women residing in Northern California. We analyzed data from 19,458 members of Kaiser Permanente Northern California who were pregnant between January 2020 and April 2021 and responded to an online survey about COVID-19 testing, diagnosis, symptoms, and their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Medical diagnosis of COVID-19 during pregnancy was defined separately by self-report and by documentation in electronic health records (EHR). We examined relationships of COVID-19 with sociodemographic factors, underlying comorbidities, and survey measures of COVID-19-like symptoms, consequent healthcare utilization, and possible COVID-19 exposures. Among 19,458 respondents, the crude prevalence of COVID-19 was 2.5% (n = 494) according to self-report and 1.4% (n = 276) according to EHR. After adjustment, the prevalence of self-reported COVID-19 was higher among women aged <25 years compared with women aged ≥35 years (prevalence ratio [PR], 1.75, 95% CI: 1.23, 2.49) and among Hispanic women compared with White women (PR, 1.91, 95% CI: 1.53, 2.37). Prevalence of self-reported COVID-19 was higher among women affected by personal or partner job loss during the pandemic (PR, 1.23, 95% CI: 1.02, 1.47) and among women living in areas of high vs. low neighborhood deprivation (PR, 1.74, 95% CI: 1.33, 2.27). We did not observe differences in self-reported COVID-19 between women with and without underlying comorbidities. Results were similar for EHR-documented COVID-19. Loss of smell or taste was a unique and common symptom reported among women with COVID-19 (42.3% in self-reported; 54.0% in EHR-documented). Among women with symptomatic COVID-19, approximately 2% were hospitalized, 71% had a telehealth visit, and 75% quarantined at home. Over a third of women with COVID-19 reported no known exposure to someone with COVID-19. Observed COVID-19 prevalence differences by sociodemographic and socioeconomic factors underscore social and health inequities among reproductive-aged women. Women with COVID-19 reported unique symptoms and low frequency of hospitalization. Many were not aware of an exposure to someone with COVID-19.

Authors: Ames, Jennifer L; Ferrara, Assiamira; Avalos, Lyndsay A; Badon, Sylvia E; Greenberg, Mara B; Hedderson, Monique M; Kuzniewicz, Michael W; Young-Wolff, Kelly C; Zerbo, Ousseny; Zhu, Yeyi; Croen, Lisa A; et al.

PLoS One. 2021;16(9):e0256891. Epub 2021-09-03.

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