Researchers, including one of Indian-origin have revealed that majority of pregnant women, who tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival to the delivery room were asymptomatic.

In a retrospective cross-sectional study of universal screenings for SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 implemented in the labour and delivery unit of Elmhurst hospital at Queens, New York, during March and April, the researchers found that more than one-third of nearly 130 pregnant women tested positive for the coronavirus.

According to the study published in the journal ‘PLOS One’, this is a much higher proportion than reported at other hospitals in New York City during the pandemic surge, and are likely related to social inequities experienced by the surrounding population.

The majority or 72 per cent of the pregnant patients who tested positive were asymptomatic, meaning they did not display any symptoms associated with Covid-19.

These findings add to the evidence that there was early and rampant asymptomatic spread of the disease at a time when most of the community and hospital testing was limited to symptomatic individuals.

“This study is instructive for other labour and delivery units, and hospitals across the world as we continue to refine pandemic preparedness,” said study author Dr Sheela Maru from the Mount Sinai hospital in the US.

“In future epidemics, it may be prudent to look at labour and delivery screening numbers much earlier on, as pregnant women continue to seek essential care despite social-distancing measures and also represent the generally young and healthy community population,” Dr Maru added.

Dr Maru said universal screening in the labour and delivery unit ensured the safety of patients and staff during an acute surge in Covid-19 infections through appropriate identification and isolation of pregnant women with positive test results.

In addition to their status for Covid-19, the study reviewed patients’ demographic data, including age, ethnicity, primary language, zip code, marital status, health insurance status and clinical data, including the mode of delivery, length of stay, and comorbidities such as chronic hypertension, preeclampsia, pre-pregnancy obesity, asthma, diabetes, depression and anxiety.

Earlier, a study published in the journal ‘JAMA Network Open’ revealed that 95 per cent of women who tested positive for Covid-19 during pregnancy had no adverse outcomes.