Background: Other than influenza, little is known about the consequences of viral acute respiratory illness (ARI) on pregnant women and fetuses. Our objectives were to determine the frequency of ARI due to respiratory viruses and the associated clinical outcomes during pregnancy.
Methods: Pregnant women in their second or third trimester were enrolled if they reported having symptoms of ARI or were healthy within the preceding 2 weeks. Nasopharyngeal secretions were evaluated for respiratory viruses by molecular diagnostic assays. Clinical outcomes were evaluated at enrollment and via a follow-up telephone-based questionnaire 2 weeks later.
Results: There were 155 pregnant participants, with 81 ARI cases and 91 healthy controls. Acute lower respiratory tract illness (ALRTI) was identified in 29 cases (36%). Human rhinovirus (HRV), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and influenza virus accounted for 75% of virus-positive cases of ALRTI. Cases with ALRTI often reported a longer duration of illness, history of allergies, symptoms of wheezing, shortness of breath, or chest pain, and use of prescription medication. Two cases with ALRTI reported decreased fetal movement; a third case with ALRTI was hospitalized.
Conclusions: In over one third of ARI cases, participants had symptoms consistent with ALRTI. Infection with HRV, RSV, or influenza virus was commonly detected in patients with ALRTI. Viral ALRTI during pregnancy appears to be common and is associated with significant morbidity.