COVID-19 antibody positivity over time and pregnancy outcomes in seven low-and-middle-income countries: A prospective, observational study of the global network for women's and children's health research

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Objectives: To determine COVID-19 antibody positivity rates over time and relationships to pregnancy outcomes in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Design: With COVID-19 antibody positivity at delivery as the exposure, we performed a prospective, observational cohort study in seven LMICs during the early COVID-19 pandemic.
Setting: The study was conducted among women in the Global Network for Women's and Children's Health's Maternal and Newborn Health Registry (MNHR), a prospective, population-based study in Kenya, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Bangladesh, Pakistan, India (two sites), and Guatemala.
Population: Pregnant women enrolled in an ongoing pregnancy registry at study sites.
Methods: From October 2020 to October 2021, standardised COVID-19 antibody testing was performed at delivery among women enrolled in MNHR. Trained staff masked to COVID-19 status obtained pregnancy outcomes, which were then compared with COVID-19 antibody results.
Main outcome measures: Antibody status, stillbirth, neonatal mortality, maternal mortality and morbidity.
Results: At delivery, 26.0% of women were COVID-19 antibody positive. Positivity increased over the four time periods across all sites: 13.8%, 15.4%, 21.0% and 40.9%. In the final period, positivity rates were: DRC 27.0%, Kenya 33.1%, Pakistan 32.8%, Guatemala 37.0%, Zambia 37.8%, Bangladesh 47.2%, Nagpur, India 57.4% and Belagavi, India 62.4%. Adjusting for site and maternal characteristics, stillbirth, neonatal mortality, low birthweight and preterm birth were not significantly associated with COVID-19. The adjusted relative risk (aRR) for stillbirth was 1.27 (95% CI 0.95-1.69). Postpartum haemorrhage was associated with antibody positivity (aRR 1.44; 95% CI 1.01-2.07).
Conclusions: In pregnant populations in LMICs, COVID-19 antibody positivity has increased. However, most adverse pregnancy outcomes were not significantly associated with antibody positivity


BJOG : an international journal of obstetrics and gynaecology