Pregnant women hospitalised for Covid-19 are at a higher risk of death, according to a recent study. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Pregnant women hospitalised for Covid-19 are at a higher risk of death, according to a recent study. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Pregnant women with Covid-19 more likely to die, study shows

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Sep 29, 2021

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Cape Town - Pregnant women hospitalised for Covid-19 are at a higher risk of death, according to a recent study.

Published in the International Journal of Gynaecology & Obstetrics, the study suggests that pregnant women hospitalised for Covid-19 face a higher risk of death than infected women admitted for other illnesses.

Data on pregnant women infected with the virus, and hospitalised between April 14 and November 24, 2020, was analysed by researchers. Thirty-six hospitals submitted data on 673 infected hospitalised pregnant women, 217 (32.2%) admitted for Covid-19 and 456 for other illnesses.

Thirty-nine deaths occurred, with a case fatality rate of 6.3%, 32 (14.7%) deaths occurred in women admitted for Covid-19 with seven (1.8%) in women admitted for other illnesses.

Tuberculosis, but not HIV co-infection or other comorbidities, was found to be associated Covid-19 admissions.

Co-principal investigator and UCT Head of Global Surgery Division, Associate Professor Salome Maswime, said, “Women with respiratory symptoms and admitted primarily for clinical Covid-19 were more likely to require invasive ventilation, need critical care, and were at higher risk of death.”

More than half of women admitted were obese (61%) using body mass index (BMI), and just over one-third (33%) were aged 35 years and older.

Consultant clinical geneticist Dr Laura Yates, said, “The vaccine has been found to be safe in pregnancy and we encourage all women to be vaccinated to reduce the risk of getting severe disease. Pregnant women should be vaccinated any time throughout pregnancy as per new recommendations from the national Department of Health.”

University of Pretoria senior lecturer, Dr Valerie Vannevel said, symptomatic pregnant women should be advised to seek medical attention early, and must be considered a vulnerable group prioritised in the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out.

Provincial Health Department spokesperson Byron La Hoe said the vaccines were safe and effective, even if one was pregnant.

“Covid-19 vaccine studies in pregnant women have not shown any harmful effects on the developing baby or on pregnancy. The vaccine can protect pregnant women and possibly their baby from getting even mild Covid-19 infection. None of the Covid-19 vaccines contain the live virus, so it cannot give you or your baby Covid-19.”

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