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Evidence that COVID-19 in pregnant women could mimic preeclampsia can help with patient management but more data needed to prove link, says GlobalData

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Following the news that there is evidence that COVID-19 infection in pregnant women can exhibit signs that mimic a severe form of preeclampsia such as hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count (HELLP), GlobalData notes that while this evidence can be taken into consideration during the evaluation of high-risk patients presenting signs of preeclampsia and lead to improved patient management, higher level data are required to declare the existence of the association.

Kelly Lambrinos, MA, Managing Analyst, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Disorders and Gender Health at GlobalData comments, “The study is of importance because most COVID-19 research in pregnant women so far has been directed on evaluating maternal-fetal transmission and less frequently on its systemic effects during pregnancy.

“While the findings presented in this paper suggest that there might be an association between COVID-19 and preeclampsia-like symptoms, it must be considered that definitive conclusions cannot be drawn based on the data from this study alone. Higher-level data are required as, at this time, a direct link between COVID-19 and pregnancy complications in the spectrum of preeclampsia has not been proven.”

One of the signs of preeclampsia is massive proteinuria, which has been reported in one-third of adults with COVID-19. As HELLP syndrome may have an onset that is insidious and atypical, measuring angiogenic factors, which are highly specific markers for preeclampsia, is essential to avoid a false diagnosis in COVID-19 patients.

Previous studies have shown that 80–90 per cent of pregnant women infected with SARS-CoV-2 do not show any symptoms. There is also currently no evidence that pregnant women are more at risk than the general population in developing severe COVID-19 requiring hospital admission.

It is important that pregnant women with a diagnosis of preeclampsia are also tested for COVID-19 and have their angiogenic factors measured. Pregnant women should still practice social distancing, good hand hygiene, and wearing a face mask to reduce their chances of a severe COVID-19 outcome.

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