Global WACh

May 22, 2020

Global WACh researchers lend expertise to improve understanding of COVID-19 in pregnancy

Image Credit: Unsplash Images

The global scientific community continues to learn more about the novel coronavirus every day.  Global WACh researchers have quickly joined collaborative efforts to learn how COVID-19 impacts pregnant and breastfeeding women and newborns.  This post features how they are collecting data relevant to maternal, obstetric, and newborn health outcomes to inform public health responses to COVID-19.  Keeping this population in mind during the pandemic now may help prevent health disparities in the future.

Urging inclusion of pregnant and breastfeeding women in COVID-19 treatment trials

Due to safety concerns, pregnant women have historically been excluded from clinical research trials.  In a Viewpoint published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, Global Health faculty members Drs. Sylvia LaCourse, Grace John-Stewart, and Kristina Adams Waldorf call attention to the need and urgency to engage pregnant and breastfeeding women in COVID-19 treatment trials now, to ensure rapid development of data-driven recommendations regarding the risks and benefits of therapies to this unique but not uncommon population.  Click here to read the Viewpoint.


Engagement in the WA State COVID-19 Pregnancy Collaborative

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr. Erica Lokken, is the Project Director for the WA State COVID-19 Pregnancy Collaborative (PI: Adams Waldorf), which aims to rapidly inform clinical care through a series of publications targeting questions that have immediate relevance for public health and clinical care provided by obstetrical, pediatric and psychiatric providers. Collectively, these studies will provide novel information on how COVID-19 disease impacts the health of pregnant women and their neonates in a large population-based prospective cohort.  The project received bridge funding from the Population Health Initiative’s Rapid Response Grant in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The collaborative recently published its first paper in the American Journal of Obstetrics and GynecologyDr. Lokken and Dr. Sylvia LaCourse co-authored the paper, which suggests COVID-19 can severely affect pregnant women who are overweight or obese before becoming pregnant.  Click here to read the UW Medicine press release and here to read the publication.


Supporting COVID-19 related mental health concerns among pregnant adolescents

Washington State’s COVID-19 epidemic has transformed medical care, education, childcare, employment, and access to resilience activities and social connection.  These changes have led to widespread impacts on mental health and deepening of existing mental health inequities.  Peripartum youth need virtual mental health support and peer connection now more than ever.

In response to the epidemic, the IMAGINE study, led by Dr. Keshet Ronen (Clinical Assistant Professor, Global Health), will leverage new grant funding from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team to conduct interviews with peripartum youth in the region to understand how COVID-19 has impacted their mental health.  Dr. Ronen and IMAGINE collaborators plan to refine their social media-based intervention to ensure it addresses youth’s reported COVID-19-related mental health and perinatal care concerns.  Click here to learn more about the study.