Pregnant women in at-risk group for COVID-19

Doctors say the virus could also cause birth complications
Posted at 5:52 PM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-30 19:50:10-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Last week, city health officials announced two fetal deaths related to COVID-19. According to Dr. Jaime Fergie, the Director of Infectious Diseases at Driscoll Children’s Hospital, pregnant women at a higher risk to COVID-19.

“Pregnancy itself is a risk factor for a more complicated illness with COVID," Fergie said. "That translates into more hospitalizations and more ICU admissions during pregnancy for women who have COVID than similar women without COVID."

Not only are pregnant women at a higher risk of being hospitalized due to COVID-19, but the virus can also cause birth complications.

“Some women deliver prematurely and could have pregnancy-related complications, and some women have lost their babies,” said Dr. Christine Metz, a professor at the Institute of Molecular Medical at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in New York.

Metz, who is also a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra University, said the body’s natural changes during pregnancy make it hard to fight certain illnesses like the flu and COVID-19.

“While women are pregnant, their blood volume increases by about 25-30%, and that can put extra pressure on the lungs, the heart, and other organs in the body,” she said.

Both doctors agree getting vaccinated is the best way for a pregnant woman to protect herself from COVID-19.

“The vaccines given to women who are pregnant are extremely safe, there have been no problems with the vaccines in terms of miscarriages, or any other problem during the pregnancy,” Fergie said.

And according to Metz, there is no evidence of vaccines having effects on a pregnancy.

“I think when the vaccine came out, there was some hesitancy about giving it to pregnant women, or women who were thinking about getting pregnant," she said. "There’s absolutely no data out there that supports any harmful effects or reduced fertility in any of those women."

Still, some women are hesitant. One local pregnant woman, who did not wish to share her name, said she had COVID-19 very early in her pregnancy. She said it was before she even knew she was pregnant and it affected her like a bad cold. After she recovered from the virus, she took a pregnancy test and learned she was pregnant with her third child.

She is already at high-risk with her pregnancy, and said her doctor recommended she get vaccinated. But she added that while she may get the vaccine after she gives birth, she does not want to further jeopardize her unborn child.

“These shots could increase the risk of you losing your baby, and we don’t know it because not enough time has passed since we administered it to the general public to even know what could happen to an unborn fetus getting them,” she said. “We’re weighing out the pros and cons, and the cons are we don’t know what it can do to hurt the baby, and that’s a big concept. It’s going to feel worse to take the shot and lose the baby because of it.”