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UC Irvine Study Finds Greater Risk Of Complications For Pregnant Women With COVID

A pregnant woman in a purple shirt receives a vaccine injection from a health care worker wearing white latex gloves.
Health officials say the best defense against COVID for pregnant women is to get vaccinated.
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Pregnant women who contract COVID-19 are more likely to end up in intensive care and need respiratory intubation or ventilation, according to a national study conducted by researchers at UC Irvine.

The study examined cases of more than 18,000 women who gave birth while infected with COVID-19. In addition to the need for intensive care, the women were also more likely to have a pre-term birth or die in childbirth.

Dr. Jennifer Jolley, a UCI Health obstetrician who specializes in high-risk maternal and fetal medicine, was a co-author of the study. She said vaccination is the best defense against COVID and any related pregnancy complications.

"We do not have an increased risk of fetal or maternal complications with COVID vaccination during pregnancy," she said.

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Only a quarter of all pregnant women in the U.S. are vaccinated against COVID-19. Last week, the CDC recommended that they get inoculated.

The study also found that women who gave birth while infected were more likely to be Black or Latino.

Jolley says it's essential that these women have access to good information and prenatal care to prevent complications with COVID.

"We are here to protect them and absolutely want to help them obtain COVID vaccination and reduce the risk of complications that we know may be more likely in their case," she said.

She added that existing racial disparities in maternal and fetal health have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

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