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Pregnant women with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, had double the risk of being admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), according to a study.

The study, published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, showed that pregnant women with COVID-19 also had four times the risk of dying in-hospital than those who did not have the infectious disease.

The findings suggest that women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should avoid getting the disease and protect themselves as best as they can with available vaccines, said researchers from the University of Maryland in the US.

"If the mother does not do well, then the baby does not do well. As we do not yet have vaccines for babies less than six months old, pregnant women should get the vaccine to protect their unborn children and newborns," said Nadia Sam-Agudu, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the varsity's School of Medicine.

Sam-Agudu added that currently, available evidence shows that COVID-19 vaccines indicated for use in pregnancy are safe, and emerging data show that they protect newborns and mothers.

The study examined data on 1,315 women hospitalised in six African countries — Ghana, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa — including 510 pregnant women with COVID-19, 403 non-pregnant women with COVID-19, and 402 pregnant women without COVID-19.

Women with other risk factors such as diabetes, HIV, history of tuberculosis, or sickle cell disease were at the greatest risk. About 32 per cent of pregnant women with COVID-19 needed in-hospital oxygen therapy compared to 16 per cent of pregnant women without the disease.

Some 19 per cent of pregnant infected women were admitted to the ICU, compared to 6 per cent of pregnant women who did not have the disease. Among the women hospitalised with COVID-19, 10 per cent of those who were pregnant died compared to the 5 per cent that was not pregnant.


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