FRIDAY, Oct. 8, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Unvaccinated pregnant patients are increasingly being hospitalized with COVID-19 during the surge of the delta variant, according to a research letter published online Sept. 13 in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Emily H. Adhikari, M.D., from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues reported illness severity trends among obstetrical patients with COVID-19 in the context of delta variant predominance and described COVID-19 vaccinations in a cohort at a public county hospital (universal COVID-19 screening) and its 10 associated community-based prenatal clinics (symptom-based testing).

The researchers found that from May 17, 2020, through Sept. 4, 2021, 1,515 pregnant patients were diagnosed with COVID-19, with 0.5 percent having reinfection >90 days after initial infection during pregnancy. Just under half of infections (45 percent) were identified in labor and delivery or inpatient units. Severe or critical illness during pregnancy was seen in 5.4 percent of patients with COVID-19, including 11 requiring mechanical ventilation, two who died but whose neonates survived, and two fetal-neonatal deaths associated with maternal critical illness. With the delta variant, both the case volume and the proportion of severe or critical illness increased significantly, with more than a quarter of pregnant patients diagnosed between Aug. 29 and Sept. 4, 2021, admitted for severe or critical illness. Of the 665 patients still pregnant or immediately postpartum when vaccines were available, 21.4 percent received at least one dose of an available vaccine.

“Our results highlight the urgency of the requirement of prevention measures, including COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy,” the authors write.

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