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Universal Screening for SARS-CoV-2 in Women Admitted for Delivery

Our take —

Universal screening for SARS-CoV-2 was conducted among pregnant women delivering at New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Only four of 215 women presented with symptoms. All four tested positive, and an additional 29 tested positive who had no symptoms on admission. Overall, 15% tested positive, 88% of whom were asymptomatic. This is an early estimate of prevalence during late pregnancy, however findings are likely not generalizable outside of New York.

Study design

Case Series

Study population and setting

Pregnant women delivering at New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center between March 22 and April 4, 2020 were screened for symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 on admission. Nasopharyngeal swabs were collected and tested for those with and without symptoms.

Summary of Main Findings

Of the 215 pregnant women seen during this period, four presented with a fever on admission and tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Among those without symptoms, 29 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (13.7%). A total of 33 (15.3%) patients tested positive on admission. Out of the 33 testing positive on admission, 88% were asymptomatic.

Study Strengths

Because universal screening of all pregnant women was employed, this study provides some evidence for the potential burden (prevalence) of SARS-CoV-2 in an immunocompromised population, where many studies to date have focused only on symptomatic patients.


This is a relatively small study, conducted over a short period of time, and there is no description provided of the underlying characteristics of the pregnant women seen (i.e. age, race, pre-existing conditions). Pregnant women are generally younger adults (<45 years), immunocompromised, and may also be more risk averse so as to protect the health of their unborn child and thus results may not be generalizable to non-pregnant adults. Given the size of the epidemic in New York, prevalence is also likely not generalizable to pregnant women outside of New York.

Value added

This study provides an early estimate of prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 among pregnant women admitted for delivery at a New York hospital and captures the number and proportion of asymptomatic cases.