Physicians see more critically ill pregnant women as ICU beds fill up in the US

Amid the latest COVID-19 wave, physicians at healthcare facilities in the South are reporting treating more pregnant women critically ill with the virus in intensive care units than at any point during the pandemic, according to NBC News.

Hospital leaders in the division of maternal-fetal medicine at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Ala., reported Aug. 20 that 39 pregnant women without full COVID-19 vaccination were admitted to the hospital in August. Of them, 10 were in the ICU and seven were on ventilators. 

"Obviously this is anecdotal, and we don't have all of the answers yet, but some of the emerging data suggests that the delta variant may be impacting pregnant women harder now," Akila Subramaniam, MD, an associate professor at the University of Alabama's Birmingham division of maternal-fetal medicine, told NBC News. "We've had more patients in August than we've had in any of the two prior surges, and that's just positive women. The concerning factor is that we're seeing so many more that are critically ill."

Todd Rice, MD, director of Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center's medical ICU, also reported this trend to the news network, saying that Vanderbilt's ICU has treated more than a dozen pregnant COVID-19 patients in recent weeks.

Overall, about 77 percent of all ICU beds in the U.S. are full with patients, with 28 percent being COVID-19 patients, The Hill reported Aug. 25, citing HHS data.

The number is indicative of increased hospitalizations in various states. Kentucky, for example, reported another record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations Aug. 24 (2,014, up more than 100 from 1,893 the day before). On Aug. 24, the state also reported that 338 Kentuckians were on ventilators (up 37 compared to the day before).

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine and the CDC have recommended full COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women.

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