Severe Coronavirus Infections in Pregnancy: A Systematic Review

Obstet Gynecol. 2020 Aug;136(2):262-272. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000004011.


Objective: To inform the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, we conducted a systematic literature review of case reports of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, during pregnancy and summarized clinical presentation, course of illness, and pregnancy and neonatal outcomes.

Data sources: We searched MEDLINE and from inception to April 23, 2020.

Methods of study selection: We included articles reporting case-level data on MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnant women. Course of illness, indicators of severe illness, maternal health outcomes, and pregnancy outcomes were abstracted from included articles.

Tabulation, integration, and results: We identified 1,328 unique articles, and 1,253 articles were excluded by title and abstract review. We completed full-text review on 75, and 29 articles were excluded by full-text review. Among 46 publications reporting case-level data, eight described 12 cases of MERS-CoV infection, seven described 17 cases of SARS-CoV infection, and 31 described 98 cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Clinical presentation and course of illness ranged from asymptomatic to severe fatal disease, similar to the general population of patients. Severe morbidity and mortality among women with MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, or SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy and adverse pregnancy outcomes, including pregnancy loss, preterm delivery, and laboratory evidence of vertical transmission, were reported.

Conclusion: Understanding whether pregnant women may be at risk for adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes from severe coronavirus infections is imperative. Data from case reports of SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and SAR-CoV-2 infections during pregnancy are limited, but they may guide early public health actions and clinical decision-making for COVID-19 until more rigorous and systematically collected data are available. The capture of critical data is needed to better define how this infection affects pregnant women and neonates. This review was not registered with PROSPERO.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / epidemiology
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / virology
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / mortality*
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / mortality*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / transmission
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / mortality*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / virology
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Premature Birth / epidemiology
  • Premature Birth / virology
  • SARS-CoV-2