Covid-19: Pregnant women account for 548 cases since pandemic started

No Covid-related deaths among pregnant women in the State, with risk to babies low

A health worker administers a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to a pregnant woman at Clalit Health Services, in Tel Aviv, Israel  in January. Photograph: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

A health worker administers a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to a pregnant woman at Clalit Health Services, in Tel Aviv, Israel in January. Photograph: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

 

A total of 548 cases of Covid-19 have been reported among pregnant women in the State since the start of the pandemic, Health Service Executive (HSE) figures show.

The figure for cases up to January 11th is probably an under-estimate because the pregnancy status of all positive cases would not have been known at the time of testing, the HSE said.

Forty-one pregnant women were admitted to hospital for Covid-19 care and “less than five” required treatment in intensive care. There have been no Covid-19 related deaths among pregnant women.

Pregnant women or their babies are not at a higher risk of serious illness if they get the disease, and most will have mild to moderate symptoms. The risk of passing Covid-19 on to the baby is considered low.

However, pregnant women with symptoms may be more likely to be admitted to hospital and to need intensive care treatment, the HSE says, and there may be an increased rate of premature labour and stillbirth.

Vaccines

Covid-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna were not tested on pregnant women, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) says there is very little data available to assess their safety in pregnancy.

“Nevertheless, based on what we know about this kind of vaccine, we don’t have any specific reason to believe there will be specific risks that would outweigh the benefits of vaccination for pregnant women,” it says. 

“For this reason, those pregnant women at high risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (eg, health workers) or who have comorbidities which add to their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated in consultation with their health care provider.”

The WHO changed the wording of its advice last Friday, having previously said in relation to the Moderna vaccine “the use of this vaccine in pregnant women is currently not recommended, unless they are at risk of high exposure”.

In a note on its website, the organisation said the recommendation remained the same.

The HSE advises pregnant women who are healthcare workers or at greater risk from Covid-19 to talk to their obstetrician or GP about getting the vaccine. If pregnant women decided to get vaccinated, they should get the first dose at or after 14 weeks and the second by 33 weeks of gestation.