The Temporal Relationship Between the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic and Preterm Birth

Obstet Gynecol. 2023 Jun 1;141(6):1171-1180. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000005171. Epub 2023 May 3.


Objective: To evaluate whether preterm birth rates changed in relation to the onset of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and whether any change depended on socioeconomic status.

Methods: This is an observational cohort study of pregnant individuals with a singleton gestation who delivered in the years 2019 and 2020 at 1 of 16 U.S. hospitals of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network. The frequency of preterm birth for those who delivered before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (ie, in 2019) was compared with that of those who delivered after its onset (ie, in 2020). Interaction analyses were performed for people of different individual- and community-level socioeconomic characteristics (ie, race and ethnicity, insurance status, Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) of a person's residence).

Results: During 2019 and 2020, 18,526 individuals met inclusion criteria. The chance of preterm birth before the COVID-19 pandemic was similar to that after the onset of the pandemic (11.7% vs 12.5%, adjusted relative risk 0.94, 95% CI 0.86-1.03). In interaction analyses, race and ethnicity, insurance status, and the SVI did not modify the association between the epoch and the chance of preterm birth before 37 weeks of gestation (all interaction P >.05).

Conclusion: There was no statistically significant difference in preterm birth rates in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic onset. This lack of association was largely independent of socioeconomic indicators such as race and ethnicity, insurance status, or SVI of the residential community in which an individual lived.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pandemics
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth* / epidemiology