The UK Government recently released findings that showed how Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic groups (BAME) people are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Now, a new study has highlighted that more than half of the pregnant women admitted to hospital with the virus were from BAME groups.
Following the results of the UK Government study that highlighted how BAME communities were disproportionately affected by COVID-19, a new survey published by The BMJ has shown that BAME women account for over half of pregnant women in UK hospitals who have been admitted with a COVID-19 infection.
According the findings, the majority of these woman had positive COVID-19 outcomes and the transmission of the virus to babies is ‘uncommon’. However, the researchers say that the high proportion of women from black or minority ethnic groups admitted with the COVID-19 infection “needs urgent investigation and explanation.”
The disproportionate impact on BAME communities
Led by Professor Marian Knight from the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, the researchers investigated the characteristics and outcomes of pregnant women admitted to a UK hospital with the virus, using data from the UK Obstetric Surveillance System (UKOSS) for pregnant women admitted to obstetric units in the UK with confirmed COVID-19 infection between 1 March and 14 April 2020.
The findings showed that more than half (56%) were from black or other ethnic minority groups (25% of women were Asian and 22% were black), 70% were overweight or obese, 40% were aged 35 or over, and a third had pre-existing conditions.
A total of 10% of those women needed respiratory support in a critical care unit, and five women died (three as a direct result of complications of COVID-19 and two from other causes).
The study also highlighted that 5% of the babies born to study mothers tested positive for COVID-19, six of them within the first 12 hours after birth.
Further investigation is needed
The authors have said that urgent investigation is needed as to why there is a high number of women from BAME communities being admitted, as they still accounted for the highest amount of admissions after the exclusion of urban centres from the analysis.
They highlight that there are some limitations to the study, and that the data suggests that most women do not become severely ill with the virus. The researchers also support guidance for continued social distancing measures in later pregnancy.