Preeclampsia-like Syndrome Induced by Severe COVID-19: A Prospective Observational Study


Objectives: To investigate the incidence of clinical, ultrasonographic and biochemical findings related to preeclampsia (PE) in pregnancies with COVID-19, and to assess their accuracy to differentiate between PE and the PE-like features associated with COVID-19.

Design: A prospective, observational study.

Setting: Tertiary referral hospital.

Participants: Singleton pregnancies with COVID-19 at >20+0 weeks.

Methods: 42 consecutive pregnancies were recruited and classified into two groups: severe and nonsevere COVID-19, according to the occurrence of severe pneumonia. Uterine artery pulsatility index (UtAPI) and angiogenic factors (soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1/placental growth factor [sFlt-1/PlGF]) were assessed in women with suspected PE.

Main outcome measures: Incidence of signs and symptoms related to PE, such as hypertension, proteinuria, thrombocytopenia, elevated liver enzymes, abnormal UtAPI and increased sFlt-1/PlGF.

Results: 34 cases were classified as nonsevere and 8 as severe COVID-19. Six (14.3%) women presented signs and symptoms of PE, all six being among the severe COVID-19 cases (75.0%). However, abnormal sFlt-1/PlGF and UtAPI could only be demonstrated in one case. Two cases remained pregnant after recovery from severe pneumonia and had a spontaneous resolution of the PE-like syndrome.

Conclusions: Pregnant women with severe COVID-19 can develop a PE-like syndrome that might be distinguished from actual PE by sFlt-1/PlGF, LDH and UtAPI assessment. Health care providers should be aware of its existence and monitor pregnancies with suspected preeclampsia with caution.

Keywords: COVID-19; PlGF; SARS; SARS-CoV-2; angiogenic factors; preeclampsia; preeclampsia-like syndrome; pregnancy; sFlt-1.