More pre-term babies during second wave in Karnataka, say doctors

45 of the 276 COVID-19 positive pregnant women at the designated hospital in Bengaluru since March had pre-term deliveries

Updated - May 28, 2021 09:43 pm IST

Published - May 28, 2021 11:33 am IST - Bengaluru

Pregnant women line up for COVID-19 testing at a mobile centre in Vijayawada. File photo

Pregnant women line up for COVID-19 testing at a mobile centre in Vijayawada. File photo

More pregnant women appear to be testing positive for COVID-19 and developing complications during the ongoing second wave. As a result, gynaecologists are seeing a rise in pre-term deliveries and stillbirths in the State.

Although there is no statewide data available as yet, doctors said they are seeing many pregnant women reporting with severe breathing problems. There is a rapid deterioration in the condition of such patients making urgent intervention and premature births inevitable, they said.

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Before 37th week

Premature/pre-term delivery is the one in which the baby is born before the 37th week of pregnancy. The last few weeks of pregnancy (37-40) are crucial weeks as the baby’s brain and sense organs develop during this period and the baby also experiences a healthy weight gain during these weeks. If a baby is prematurely born, he/she needs intensive monitoring.

“Patients and their families too readily give consent for a premature delivery, when the situation demands urgent intervention. If such patients need to be put on ventilators or require proning, anaesthetists and treating physicians recommend that the deliveries be conducted before starting the treatment. We had to do this in 45 of the 276 positive women who delivered in our hospital since March,” said D Tulasi Devi, Medical Superintendent of Hajee Sir Ismail Sait (HSIS) Gosha Hospital.

This State-run hospital, attached to Bowring and Lady Curzon Medical College and Research Institute, is the dedicated COVID19 facility for pregnant women in Bengaluru.

A total of 524 pregnant women had been admitted here since March. Among these, 276 women delivered at the hospital and the rest who were in their first or second trimesters were treated and discharged.

Five of the 45 women who delivered pre-term succumbed to COVID-19. The hospital has seen a total of 22 maternal deaths during the second wave so far. While five were the ones who delivered pre-term, three died after giving birth at 32 weeks. The remaining 14 mothers, who had come with severe COVID complications and precariously low oxygen saturation levels, died despite intervention.

Chikkanarasa Reddy, professor of Paediatrics, Bowring and Lady Curzon Medical College and Research Institute, said although seven of the babies born to these COVID positive mothers tested positive, all of them have recovered.

“We are seeing several pre-term babies who require intensive monitoring in our neonatal ICU. Although such babies require prolonged NICU care, we have seen most of them recover quickly,” said Dr Reddy.

Hema Divakar, consultant gynaecologist at Divakar’s Speciality Hospital, and former president of Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI), said entire families including pregnant women testing positive has become a common trend noticed during the second wave.

Late reporting

“Most report to hospitals late with complications as strict monitoring/isolation is not done at home. While some would not want to visit a hospital, some tend to hide facts and keep postponing getting tested. Therefore, there is rapid deterioration and this makes it inevitable for urgent intervention,” Dr Hema Divakar explained.

Pointing out that such deterioration typically happens in the seventh or eighth month, the doctor added, “No matter even if the baby is premature, rapid action for delivery is undertaken to save both the mother and baby.”

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