Pregnant Black and Hispanic Women are Significantly More Likely to Be Exposed to COVID-19, Study Finds

Pregnant Black and Hispanic women in Philadelphia are appreciably more likely to be exposed to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) than Asian and white women, according to the findings of a new study published in the journal Science Immunology.

Researchers assessed almost 1,300 women who gave birth between April and June 2020 at Pennsylvania Hospital and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. These hospitals represent 50% of live births in Philadelphia during that time. The researchers measured levels of COVID-19 antibodies to estimate rates of exposure to the virus in pregnant women cared for at both respective facilities.

According to the results, 6.2% percent of these women possessed antibodies to the virus, but researchers observed significant disparities across racial and ethnic groups. They found antibodies in 9.7% of Black women, and 10.4% Hispanic/Latina women, juxtaposed to only 2% percent in White/Non-Hispanic women, and 0.9% percent in Asian women. The findings suggest that women of color are more vulnerable to COVID-19 exposure.


“Pregnant women are fairly representative of community exposure, and these data provide more evidence, on top of what we already know with COVID-19, that health and socio-economic equity are inextricably linked,” said Scott Hensley, PhD, an associate professor of Microbiology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania via a press release about the study. “Hopefully, this will help lead to policies that address these inequities.”