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Five maternal deaths linked to virus

Tuesday May 12th, 2020

Five women in the UK have died during pregnancy after Covid-19 infection, according to a new analysis.

The analysis, conducted at Oxford University, found that pregnant women suffered from the virus at about the same rate as the rest of the population.

However those admitted to hospital were overwhelmingly from ethnic minority backgrounds – 55% of them.

The researchers linked age, weight and pre-existing conditions such as hypertension to hospital admission – together with stage of pregnancy. The majority were in their third trimester.

The findings will lead to updated guidance for doctors on advising women of the risks from the virus, leading obstetricians said.

It found that 20% of the babies born to these women were born premature – and 5% tested positive for viral infection.

Dr Christine Ekechi, spokesperson on racial equality at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the five deaths in pregnant women and our heartfelt sympathies and thoughts are with their families during this very difficult time. The underlying causes of these deaths are currently unknown. We owe it to each woman, her family and wider society to find out why these deaths have occurred, and to prevent future tragedies wherever possible.

“It is of great concern that over half - 55% - of pregnant women admitted to hospital with coronavirus were from a BAME background, and this deepens our concerns around persisting vulnerabilities of this particular group of women.

“We are updating our guidance to reflect that BAME women should be told at each contact with a health professional that they may be at higher risk of complications of coronavirus, and advised to seek help early if they are concerned about their health.

“Healthcare professionals should be aware of this increased risk, and have a lower threshold to review, admit and consider multidisciplinary escalation in women of BAME background."

Researcher Professor Marian Knight said: "Most pregnant women who were admitted to hospital were more than six months pregnant, which emphasises the importance of continued social distancing measures in the later stages of pregnancy. Following the current guidance about careful social distancing will help prevent infection."

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | Flu & Viruses | NHS | Nursing & Midwifery | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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