After new analysis showed pregnant black women were eight times more likely and Asian women four times as likely to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19, the NHS is rolling out additional support for pregnant women of a Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) background.
Given evidence of the heightened risk to BAME expectant mums, urgent action is being taken in England including increasing uptake of Vitamin D and undertaking outreach in neighbourhoods and communities in their area.
Research carried out by Oxford University has shown 55% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with coronavirus are from a BAME background, even though they represent only a quarter of the births in England and Wales.
In response, England’s most senior midwife, Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, has written to all maternity units in the country calling on them to take four specific actions to minimise avoidable COVID-19 risk for BAME women and their babies.
The steps include:
- Increasing support of at-risk pregnant women – e.g. making sure clinicians have a lower threshold to review, admit and consider multidisciplinary escalation in women from a BAME background.
- Reaching out and reassuring pregnant BAME women with tailored communications.
- Ensuring hospitals discuss vitamins, supplements and nutrition in pregnancy with all women. Women low in vitamin D may be more vulnerable to coronavirus so women with darker skin or those who always cover their skin when outside may be at particular risk of vitamin D insufficiency and should consider taking a daily supplement of vitamin D all year.
- Ensuring all providers record on maternity information systems the ethnicity of every woman, as well as other risk factors, such as living in a deprived area (postcode), co-morbidities, BMI and aged 35 years or over, to identify those most at risk of poor outcomes.
Source: NHE, 29 June 2020