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UAB study on Delta variant and risk of adverse outcomes in pregnant women

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 6:18 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Pregnant women have been a population of concern for physicians since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to doctors at UAB.

A new UAB study looks at how the Delta variant increases the risk of adverse outcomes in pregnant women.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network reported the frequency of cesarean delivery, preterm birth and pregnancy-related hypertension were increased in pregnant women who developed severe or critical illness from the novel coronavirus.

The Delta variant surge in Alabama included a seemingly higher number of pregnant patients with COVID-19 in hospitals and intensive care units than in previous surges.

“We saw an alarming increase in pregnant patients hospitalized with the Delta variant in July and August,” said Akila Subramaniam, M.D., associate professor in UAB’s Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine. “Even more, many of our patients were delivering pre-term because of the effects of the virus on these women.”

Researchers tracked admission rates and maternal and neonatal outcomes of pregnant COVID-19 patients at UAB Hospital from March 22, 2020, to Aug. 18, 2021. Outcomes were compared between pre-Delta and Delta groups.

Early findings from the study showed serious morbidity and adverse outcomes associated with the Delta variant and pregnancy.

Prior to the Delta variant, UAB Hospital saw the highest admission of pregnant women with active COVID-19 in July 2020. A total of 28 pregnant patients were admitted that month, three of whom were admitted to the intensive care unit. In comparison, 39 pregnant patients, with 11 in the intensive care unit, were hospitalized in just the first 18 days of August.

”Pregnant women are a high-risk population with low-vaccination rates overall,” said Jodie Dionne, M.D., associate director of UAB Global Health in the Center for Women’s Reproductive Health and associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases. “There is misinformation circulating that causes doubt in the vaccines or downplays the effect of the virus. This study highlights how dangerous contracting the virus, especially the Delta variant, can be for the mom and baby.”

UAB researchers emphasize recommendations from the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to vaccinate pregnant patients to mitigate severe perinatal morbidity and mortality.

Read the full study in the journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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