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Spike in pregnant women severely ill with Covid-19 in Melbourne

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 11/09/2021 Manoli Luxford For Daily Mail Australia
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Health authorities are alarmed at the sudden spike in the number of pregnant women falling severely ill with Covid-19, with the virus causing premature births and in one case even infecting the unborn baby. 

Seven pregnant women with critical cases of Covid were taken to Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne this week.

One of the mothers is in intensive care fighting for life, and severely premature babies are being looked after in neonatal intensive care.

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On Sunday any woman 24 weeks along in their pregnancy or more will gain priority access to Pfizer vaccinations at Victoria's state-run hubs. 

Head of Perinatal Services at Monash Health Dr Ryan Hodges spoke at Victoria's Covid-19 press conference on Saturday and expressed his team's worry over the increase in cases.

'What we've seen over the last week has caused alarm,' Dr Hodges said.

'We have lots of women now who are very sick, who are very high risk of having their babies born early.'

Dr Hodges said pregnant women who fall ill with the virus are five times more likely to need to be admitted to Monash Health, and there is a one in three chance they will need oxygen therapy when they are in hospital.

He said there is also a one in seven chance they will end up in intensive care, and there is a one in two chance of an emergency delivery of their baby.

Dr Hodges added: 'There is a one in two chance of caesarean section, and you are twice as likely to have a stillborn.

'At the moment at Monash Women's, we have seven women who are pregnant who are in hospital.

'One of whom is in intensive care at 24 weeks gestation with a 600-gram baby. She is unwell.'

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'We have 26 weeks, we have 28 weeks, we have 30 weeks - these are very high risk and extremely premature babies due to the degree of their infection,' Dr Hodges expressed.


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He also mentioned that a mother who was Covid-positive was brought into hospital on Friday night with her baby, who also had the virus. 

Overwhelmingly, the women being looked after are not vaccinated and are believed to be from Melbourne's northern and western suburbs.

Maternity wards in Australia kept a close eye on how the Delta strain affected pregnancies in the US, the UK and Europe, and have now prepared themselves for the full brunt.

Dr Hodges noted that over 200,000 pregnant women in the US and the UK had no adverse reactions to the Pfizer vaccine, which showed how safe it is.

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'It does not increase the risk of miscarriage; it does not increase the risk of abnormalities in your body; it does not increase the risk of pregnancy complications,' he added.

'It prevents severe disease, it prevents you coming to Monash, it prevents you having your baby born early and coming to our intensive care unit.'

He said the immune protection response crosses the placenta to the baby and gives it protection from the virus.

The Monash maternity ward was shocked by the Delta strain's severity on pregnant women and stated it was more dangerous than what is seen with the flu.

'This not what we see with influenza,' Dr Hodges said.

'I never would have seven sick women in hospital with influenza.'

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Victoria recorded 450 locally acquired Covid-19 cases on Saturday, and there are now 2,793 active cases.

143 of Victoria's active cases are in hospital with 34 in intensive care and 26 on ventilators.

Only 11 per cent of people hospitalised had received one dose, with 89 per cent not vaccinated.

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