During the coronavirus pandemic, pregnant women and those who have just given birth constitute a risk group regardless of other comorbidities, warns the Covid-19 Observatory of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), a research institution in biological sciences linked to the Ministry of Health of Brazil.
In a bulletin extraordinary report released last Friday, the foundation reports that so far this year in the country they have died from the infection 1.156 pregnant women and those who had recently given birth, a figure that represents a more than double increase compared to the 560 cases registered throughout 2020. Most of the fatal cases were registered during pregnancy and not in the puerperium, the first weeks after delivery.
In terms of probabilities, the mortality rate of pregnant and postpartum women reaches the 7,2 %, while the current general rate is 2.8%. That is, patients in this category run 2.57 times higher risk to die from coronavirus, highlight the doctors.
High maternal mortality would be associated with “morphological changes in the pregnant woman, when there is a change in the circulatory structures to meet the demand for fetal growth, “Fiocruz specialists suggest. They also point out that pregnancy and the puerperium could make it difficult for patients to access the ICU, further increasing the rate of fatal cases.
To reduce the number of deaths in the prenatal and postpartum period, doctors propose to adopt measures such as greater physical distancing, the distribution of high-quality masks and universal CRP tests when entering the maternity wards. In addition, they advocate vaccination priority of future mothers, a step they consider “fundamental […] in the current stage of the pandemic“.
Priority vaccination of women during pregnancy and the postnatal period was already introduced in Brazil in April, but was suspended in May. The setback was due to the suspected case of a pregnant woman who died after being inoculated with the Astrazeneca drug. However, later the generalized vaccination of pregnant women has been resumed in several states of the country, pick up Brazil Agency.
In mid-April, the Brazilian Ministry of Health recommended that women, if possible, postpone their pregnancies given the aggressiveness of the new SARS-CoV-2 strains towards pregnant women. “We do not have national or international studies, but the clinical vision of the specialists shows that the new variant is more aggressive with pregnant women,” warned the secretary of Primary Health Care of the ministry, Raphael Parente.
At the end of the same month, a study by British scientists revealed that pregnant women are 50% more likely to develop complications compared to those who are not infected. Doctors then calculated that infected pregnant women had a 22 times greater risk of dying than non-infected women.