International Registry of Coronavirus Exposure in Pregnancy (IRCEP): Cohort Description and Methodological Considerations

Am J Epidemiol. 2022 May 20;191(6):967-979. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwac046.


Limited data are available about the potential health effects of infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) on pregnant women and their developing offspring. We established the International Registry of Coronavirus Exposure in Pregnancy (IRCEP) to provide data on the risk of major adverse obstetric and neonatal outcomes among women with varying degrees of severity and timing of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) during pregnancy. We describe here the cohort and share the lessons learned. The IRCEP enrolls women tested for SARS-CoV-2 or with a clinical diagnosis of COVID-19 during pregnancy and obtains information using an online data collection system. By March 2021, 17,532 participants from 77 countries had enrolled; 54% enrolled during pregnancy and 46% afterward. Among women with symptomatic COVID-19 with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test (n = 4,934), symptoms were mild in 41%, moderate in 52%, and severe in 7%; 7.7% were hospitalized for COVID-19 and 1.7% were admitted to an intensive care unit. The biggest challenges were retention of participants enrolled during pregnancy and the potential bias introduced when participants enroll after pregnancy outcomes are known. Multiple biases need to be considered and addressed when estimating and interpreting the effects of COVID-19 in pregnancy in these types of cohorts.

Keywords: COVID-19; cohort; methods; pregnancy; registry.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology
  • Registries
  • SARS-CoV-2