Pregnant women make up 30% of ICU patients at Mississippi hospital
Pregnant women now make up 30% of ICU patients at Mississippi’s largest hospital.
Mississippi Clarion Ledger
Some expecting mothers are being turned away when trying to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Mississippi and pregnant women now make up 30% of ICU patients at the state’s largest hospital, medical doctors said Friday.
Four of 11 COVID-19 positive mothers admitted in the past three weeks to the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s intensive care unit have died from complications due to the virus, said UMMC maternal-fetal medicine specialist Rachael Morris.
Two of the women are on ventilators. Ten of the 11 women’s babies, while born premature, are alive. One woman is still carrying but remains in the ICU after getting a monoclonal antibody treatment.
Mothers sick with COVID-19 can deteriorate so rapidly the center’s doctors have had to perform bedside C-sections, said UMMC maternal-fetal medicine specialist Michelle Owens.
“(There was) not one vaccinated pregnant woman in our hospital,” Morris said during a Friday afternoon meeting of the Mississippi State Medical Association and state health officials.
While pregnant women are at increased risk of severe illness when it comes to COVID-19, the babies don’t always make it out OK. State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said 72 coronavirus-positive mothers in Mississippi have lost a fetus after 20 weeks gestation.
“(COVID-19 is) bad for your baby. It’s bad for you. It’s bad for your future,” Dobbs said during the Friday afternoon meeting.
Early on in the pandemic, Morris noted mothers were coming to the hospital during their third trimester with more mild symptoms. However, with the highly infectious delta variant that began sweeping the state in July, women are being admitted earlier in their pregnancies. Morris said what she’s seeing now in pregnant women with COVID-19 infections is nothing like she has seen before.
“COVID is not kind to pregnant women,” Owens said.
With the delta variant and the state’s low fully vaccinated rate, there have been increased cases and deaths in pregnant women in Mississippi. Misinformation about pregnant women and COVID-19 vaccines is “bad science,” Morris said.
With only one in four pregnant women in the country is vaccinated compared to the nation’s vaccinated rate of 54%. Regardless of any comorbidities associated with pregnancy, Owens noted pregnant women have slightly lowered immune systems than their non-pregnant counterparts.
Owens said swirling misinformation about fertility and pregnancy in regard to the vaccine is affecting whether or not expecting mothers get the shot. She’s had patients tell her they were turned away from getting the vaccine because they were pregnant.
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“It’s wrong information. (There are) no links to fertility concerns,” Morris said, adding that the vaccine does not contain the live virus nor does it cross into the placenta.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all back the safety of the vaccine and recommend vaccination in pregnant women and for those of child-bearing age.
For expecting mothers who get the virus, Mississippi health officials urged those women to get monoclonal antibody treatment. Vaccination for women looking to get pregnant, expecting and those who have recently had a baby is safe, Mississippi health officials reinforced.
“The level of suffering that we’re seeing, in many instances, we feel could be prevented. It’s very hard to reconcile,” Owens said. “It’s sobering.”
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