NHS boosts support for pregnant black and ethnic minority women
The NHS is rolling out additional support for pregnant Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) women, as new research shows heightened risks facing women from minority groups.
Analysis out today shows Black pregnant women are eight times more likely to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19, while Asian women are four times as likely.
Urgent action is being taken by the NHS in England to protect expectant mums, including increasing uptake of important Vitamin D and undertaking outreach in neighbourhoods and communities in their area.
Women from ethnic minority backgrounds have long been known to face additional maternity risks, with maternal mortality rates significantly higher than for white women.
But now research from Oxford University shows that 55% of the pregnant women admitted to hospital with COVID-19 are from a BAME background, even though they only make up a quarter of the births in England and Wales.
Further analysis of the research indicates that Asian women are four times more likely than white women to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19 during pregnancy, while Black women are eight times more likely.
Today, 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 which will minimise the additional risk of COVID-19 for BAME women and their babies.
The common sense 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.
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