Ireland has witnessed a significant increase in the number of pregnant women with Covid-19 requiring intensive care treatment, a leading obstetrician has said.
Chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Dr Cliona Murphy said she was aware of 20 women who were either pregnant or postpartum who have been admitted to ICU since the end of June.
“They are quite striking numbers, really,” she said.
“Before that in the months from the end of November last year to June (this year) there were 22 but just from June to October 20 is quite significant.”
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Dr Murphy, who works at the Coombe hospital in Dublin, said she was aware of three new ICU admissions in the city over the weekend.
“That has given us a bit of a shock,” she told RTE Radio One.
Dr Murphy said a woman admitted to ICU with Covid could be required to stay there for up to five weeks.
She said there had also been an increase in the number of pregnant women requiring specialist ECMO treatment (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) as ventilation had not been sufficient to keep their oxygen levels high enough.
“There’s been quite a handful of people who’ve needed ECMO this year and that is extraordinary for obstetrics,” she said.
The obstetrician has previously called for vaccines to be more readily available to pregnant women when they attend maternity hospitals for appointments.
She highlighted that the HSE was operating pop-up vaccine clinics for women at all stages of pregnancy over the Halloween period.
Dr Murphy said pregnant women were just as likely to catch Covid-19 as anyone else in the population but if they did contract the virus they were more likely to develop symptoms.
She said pregnant women had a one in 20 risk of hospital admission and, if they were admitted to hospital, they had a 10 per cent chance of requiring ICU treatment.
The doctor said there was also a 43 per cent risk of needing a caesarean section and a 20 per cent risk of having a premature baby.