SCOPE 2: Studies of COvid-19 in PrEgnancy - A framework to secure reproductive, maternal and child health during societal crises

During global crises, pregnant women are especially vulnerable. Reproduction, including fertility, is affected by societal crises, and virologists and environmentalists foresee that we will encounter such crises more frequent in the time to come. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major crisis for society and health care throughout the world. There is a global need to understand the impact of COVID-19 on maternal and reproductive health from a societal security perspective. Fertility is also known to be affected by health shocks. More knowledge on medium- to long-term consequences on fertility, maternal and offspring health of the altered health care, shutdown of society and preventive measures in addition to the viral infection in itself will improve preparation for future health crises.

Our multidisciplinary Scandinavian team has expertise in perinatal epidemiology, in social epidemiology, in surveillance, and in obstetrics and neonatology. We have extensive experience in using national registries to study pregnancy outcomes after infections and pandemics including COVID-19.

The overall aim and purpose of this project is to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced fertility patterns, reproductive health, pregnancy, and infant outcomes, in the medium- and long-term, and to use this knowledge to inform better preparation for and management of future similar societal crises. We propose to follow up on medium-to-long-term consequences on mothers and children of exposure to lockdown, COVID-19 infection and COVID-19 vaccinations in pregnancy, and to address changes in fertility during and after the pandemic. Additionally, we will examine the burden of infections on maternal, fetal and child health. Eventually, we will suggest a points of action list for surveillance and exploration of maternal and child health for future crises.

Societal crises caused by new viruses, like the COVID-19 pandemic, is likely to occur more frequent in the future, but also other societal crises may occur, like the crisis prompted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the climate crisis. The impact of such crises on fertility in the contemporary Scandinavian welfare states is not known and we will provide this knowledge. Beside exploring the medium-term health effects, we have the ambitions to create a framework for surveillance of maternal and child health in future crises.