Pregnant Women are at Higher Risk of Critical Illness Due to COVID

Doctors and midwives urged expectant mothers to be vaccinated. New data from the UK’s National Health Service reveals nearly 20 per cent of people with critically ill COVID-19 are pregnant women who have not been vaccinated. There are also concerns about the large number of pregnant women in intensive care units as pregnancy poses a higher risk of becoming seriously ill due to the coronavirus.

When Kobe was born last August, his mother, Kelsie Routs did not immediately cradle him.

At 29 weeks pregnant, she became seriously ill with COVID. He was then accidentally put into a coma and when he woke up, he saw that his baby had been born. Routs said he was unaware of what had happened to him. Routs now regrets her decision to remain unvaccinated.

Pregnant women waiting to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in Chennai, 5 July 2021. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP)

Pregnant women waiting to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in Chennai, 5 July 2021. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP)

He said, “If we were told we would be in a coma and potentially die, I think we would consider it further. But yes, I think I will get it now.”

Recent data show that nearly 20 percent of critically ill COVID patients are pregnant women who have not been vaccinated.

Dr Jo Mountfield, consultant obstetrics and vice president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said there was now enough evidence to encourage pregnant women to get the vaccine.

He said, “We know that if you have COVID while pregnant, especially later in your pregnancy, there is a risk that you may develop serious COVID. You may need to be hospitalized. You can receive the vaccine at any stage of your pregnancy. We are receiving increasing data. many have shown that the vaccine does not increase the risk of miscarriage, does not increase the risk of stillbirth, and does not increase preterm birth.”

Data shows that contracting COVID-19 during pregnancy can increase the chances of being born prematurely.

A nurse helps a pregnant woman with COVID-19 in Paris, France, November 17, 2020. (Martin BUREAU / AFP)

A nurse helps a pregnant woman with COVID-19 in Paris, France, November 17, 2020. (Martin BUREAU / AFP)

Olivia Buxton was hospitalized for COVID-19 last December, when a vaccine was not yet available.

Scans not long after that showed the fetus had stopped growing and had very little amniotic fluid – something that was clearly very dangerous for the fetus.

Buxton says, “Fetuses can be stillborn. So then they said they were going to induce me. So within 48 hours of making that decision, they took me to the hospital, and I was induced; Jude was born at 39 weeks.”

For pregnant women, the decision to get vaccinated or not may be emotionally complicated, but doctors say their advice is clear, pregnant women can and should be vaccinated.

They say vaccination does not increase the risk for mother and baby and may in fact avoid the risk of stillbirth. [uh/ab]

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