New Delhi: As India battles the most threatening second wave, doctors and experts are now claiming that the new variants of the coronavirus have been more aggressive in pregnant women, with a sharp rise in postpartum death. Recently, a video of late Dr Dimple Arora Chawla, a dentist, who was seven months pregnant with her second child and lost her life due to the virus also highlighted the plight of pregnant COVID-19 patients. Dr Chawla tested positive for coronavirus in April. Two weeks later, the 34-year-old lost her unborn baby. The next day, the doctor too lost her life due to the virus. She is survived by her three-year-old son and her husband. Days before her death, she had put out a video message to her family and friends, urging them not to take the deadly virus lightly.
World Health Organisation’s COVID guidelines also says that pregnant women or recently pregnant women who are older, overweight, and have pre-existing medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes seem to have an increased risk of developing severe COVID-19. A recent study by the Oxford university also said pregnant women infected with COVID-19 and their newborn children face higher risks of complications than was previously known.
NDTV speaks to gynecologists, obstetrician and a nutritionist to know more about the risks associated for pregnant women in COVID-19 times:
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Dr Manjiri Mehta, Gynecologist & Obstetrician, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, says,
Effect of COVID-19 is seen more in expecting mothers and due to changes in their bodies and immune systems, COVID-19 can lead to more complications in the pregnancy. We are also seeing that more COVID-19 positive pregnant women are needing hospitalisation.
Dr Surabhi Siddhartha, Gynecologist & Obstetrician reiterating the same fact added,
Pregnant women especially those who have comorbodities are now at higher risk.
Highlighting that the complications in pregnant women are more in the second wave of COVID-19, Dr Anmol Pawar, Gynecologist & Obstetrician and COVID-19 Nodal Officer, Nowrosjee Wadia Maternity Hospital in Mumbai added,
This time the complications like abortions, pre-mature deliveries, excess bleeding have increased in pregnant women who are COVID-19 positive. Also, there has been a rise in such cases as compared to past COVID wave. We are also seeing complications in new-born babies more because of complicated deliveries. Lastly, previously we have never heard cases of death of pregnant women due to COVID, sadly that has also changed this time and it is on a rise.
How Can Pregnant Women Protect Themselves Against COVID-19?
WHO guidelines say that pregnant women should take the same precautions to avoid COVID-19 infection as other people. It says, pregnant women can help protect themselves by:
• Washing hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
• Keeping space between yourself and others and avoiding crowded spaces.
• Wearing a non-medical, fabric mask where it is not possible to keep sufficient physical distance between yourself and others
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
• PractiSing respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately
• If you have fever, cough or difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. Call before going to a health facility, and follow the directions of your local health authority
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.