Women 25 weeks or more into their pregnancies are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms if they are infected with the novel coronavirus, according to a study by a health ministry research team.
Pregnant women age 30 or older also face greater risk of severe symptoms, the study showed.
A member of the team is calling on pregnant women to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Earlier this month, an infected pregnant woman in her 30s in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, gave birth to a baby at her home after being unable to find a hospital to accept her, and the baby died. Alarmed by the incident, the prefectural government has asked medical institutions to increase the number of hospital beds.
The study covered 144 pregnant women who were infected with the coronavirus in and after January last year — 111 with mild symptoms, 31 with moderate symptoms and two who were seriously ill. Of the 31 moderately ill patients, 18 were classified as moderate II patients needing oxygen administration.
The study found that women who were 25 weeks or more into their pregnancies had 24% higher risk of being categorized as moderate II or becoming seriously ill.
The risk was 17% and 22% higher, respectively, for pregnant women aged 30 or older and those with 26.5 or higher on the body mass index, which gauges the degree of obesity.
Moderate II and seriously ill patients also showed a trend of premature births, but it is not known whether the trend was directly linked to the coronavirus as early delivery by cesarean section may take place for the treatment of the mother.
“If infected, pregnant women have dual risks of the coronavirus and childbirth, and there is a limit to the kinds of medicine that can be used for them,” Masashi Deguchi, a member of the ministry research team and specially appointed professor at Kobe University. “We want (pregnant women) to consider getting vaccinated to prevent infection.”
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