4.9 pregnant women per 1,000 hospitalised with covid-19 in UK, finds study

on 14 May 2020

A study of 427 pregnant women and their babies during the corona virus (Covid-19) has been conducted by the University of Oxford.

The UK Obstetric Surveillance System at the University of Oxford (UKOSS) study showed that between 1 March and 14 April 2020, 4.9 pregnant women per 1,000 patients to be admitted to hospital with coronavirus, with 1 in 10 receiving intensive care.

The findings support current guidance by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) that pregnant women are at no greater risk of severe illness than the non-pregnant population.

It was also found that 55% of pregnant women who were admitted to hospital with coronavirus were from a black or other minority ethnic (BAME) background.

Older pregnant women who were overweight or obsess, and pregnant women who with pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes were also more likely to be admitted to hospital.

In total, five pregnant women with coronavirus sadly died during this period, however it is unclear if the virus was the cause of death.

The majority of women who became severely ill were in their third trimester pregnancy, emphasising the importance of social distancing for this group.

Commenting on the findings, RCM’s Head of Quality of Safety Zeenath Uddin said: “Clearly any maternal death is a tragedy. We owe it to these families to understand why this has happened and prevent other families from going through the same trauma. Alongside this, we need to ensure that there are no barriers to women seeking, and receiving, help and support during their pregnancy.

“While we may not yet know why, we know that expectant mothers from BAME backgrounds are more vulnerable to Covid-19 that the general population. It is why midwives are not only following up with those women who has missed appointments but also offering them additional appointments where necessary.”

President of RCOG, Dr Edward Morris, also added: “Addressing health inequalities is a key strategic priority for the RCOG and we continue to urge the Government to tackle those across women’s health as a matter of urgency.”

The UKOSS study is conducted by the University of Oxford with key input from partners such as RCOG.

Between 1 March and 14 April 2020, 90,000 babies were born in the UK.