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Pregnant women to be tested for coronavirus

A new research project being carried out by researchers from Aarhus University, Aarhus University Hospital and the University of Southern Denmark, aims to clarify whether pregnant women and newborn babies are a special risk group in relation to coronavirus. The Novo Nordisk Foundation is supporting the project with almost DKK 2 million.

2020.04.07 | Anne Westh, AUH

Postdoc, MD Stine Yde from The Department of Biomedicine at Aarhus University will investigate the effects of coronavirus on pregnant women and infants. Photo: Tonny Foghmar.

At present, there is not much knowledge about pregnant women and new coronavirus. To find out more about this area, researchers from Aarhus University, Aarhus University Hospital, Hospital Lillebaelt and the University of Southern Denmark, have received a grant of almost DKK 2 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

In the research project, a group of pregnant women and newborn babies will be examined while the corona epidemic is at its peak.

"During a time with an ongoing, international health crisis, there is a great need for more knowledge about COVID-19 (the disease) and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus) in pregnant women, women who give birth and newborn babies," says Stine Yde Nielsen, who is a postdoc at the Department of Biomedicine at Aarhus University and a medical doctor at the Department of Clinical Microbiology at Aarhus University Hospital.

She adds that hardly anything is known about how COVID-19 affects pregnancy, how many pregnant women are infected without having symptoms, and what it means for the child if the mother is infected.

"But right now we have a unique opportunity to study COVID-19 and pregnant women while the epidemic is at its highest.

All births in Aarhus and Kolding

All pregnant women who are scheduled to give birth at Aarhus University Hospital and at Kolding Hospital over a period of a few months will be offered the opportunity to participate in the study.

The women will be given a swab test for COVID-19 when they come to the hospital to give birth. The newborn baby will also be given a swab test immediately after the birth. At the same time, a blood sample will be taken from the mother and from the umbilical cord. The samples will then be sent for analysis at the microbiological departments at Aarhus University Hospital and Vejle Hospital.

Stine Yde Nielsen hopes that the project can begin in the course of a few weeks. She does not yet know when the final results will be available.

"But in any case, we’ll have results that we can use if a possible second wave of COVID-19 comes to Denmark in the autumn."

Global data

Data from China indicates that pregnant women are one of the vulnerable groups when it comes to COVID-19. In Denmark, there is little knowledge about COVID-19 and pregnant women, but the Danish Health Authority considers pregnant women as a vulnerable group in line with other at-risk groups.

FACTS about the COVID-19 research project for women giving birth and new born babies 

  • A total of 1,000 women and their newborn children will be included in the study.
  • If the mother is tested positive for COVID-19, she will receive an answer immediately – regardless of whether she is participating in the research project or not – so that the necessary precautions can be taken.
  • The research project is a collaboration between three departments at Aarhus University Hospital: Clinical Microbiology, Gynaecology and Obstetrics and Children and Young People. The Department of Gynaecology and the Department of Clinical Microbiology at Hospital Lillebaelt are also collaborating on the project.


MD, Postdoc, Stine Yde Nielsen
Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Department of Clinical Microbiology, Aarhus University Hospital
Mobile: (+45) 2870 6085
Email: stineyde@dadlnet.dk

Grants and awards, Health and disease, Academic staff, Department of Clinical Medicine, External target group, Technical / administrative staff, Department of Biomedicine, Department of Biomedicine, Public/Media, Health