The association of COVID-19 infection in pregnancy with preterm birth: A retrospective cohort study in California

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Our understanding of the association between coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) and preterm or early term birth among racially and ethnically diverse populations and people with chronic medical conditions is limited.


We determined the association between COVID-19 and preterm (PTB) birth among live births documented by California Vital Statistics birth certificates between July 2020 and January 2021 (n=240,147). We used best obstetric estimate of gestational age to classify births as very preterm (VPTB, <32 weeks), PTB (< 37 weeks), early term (37 and 38 weeks), and term (39-44 weeks), as each confer independent risks to infant health and development. Separately, we calculated the joint effects of COVID-19 diagnosis, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity on PTB and VPTB.


COVID-19 diagnoses on birth certificates increased for all racial/ethnic groups between July 2020 and January 2021 and were highest for American Indian/Alaska Native (12.9%), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (11.4%), and Latinx (10.3%) birthing people. COVID-19 diagnosis was associated with an increased risk of VPTB (aRR 1.6, 95% CI [1.4, 1.9]), PTB (aRR 1.4, 95% CI [1.3, 1.4]), and early term birth (aRR 1.1, 95% CI [1.1, 1.2]). There was no effect modification of the overall association by race/ethnicity or insurance status. COVID-19 diagnosis was associated with elevated risk of PTB in people with hypertension, diabetes, and/or obesity.

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