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20 pregnant and postpartum women admitted to ICU with Covid since June, obstetrician says

Dr. Cliona Murphy also said that three women had been transferred to general hospitals for ICU care this weekend alone.

Chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Dr. Cliona Murphy.
Chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Dr. Cliona Murphy.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/

20 PREGNANT AND postpartum women have been admitted to intensive care units for Covid-19 treatment since June, the chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said. 

Dr Cliona Murphy, who also works at the Coombe Maternity Hospital, said three women had been transferred from maternity hospitals in Dublin to general hospitals for ventilation and ICU care this weekend alone. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, she described the number as “striking”.

From the end of November 2020 until June of this year, 22 pregnant or postpartum women have needed ICU care, the vast majority of whom were unvaccinated. 

“What we have seen, particularly in the last few weeks, is that they can deteriorate pretty quickly. Instead of being able to manage on some oxygen, often we are in a position of where the woman is struggling to breathe and sometimes, that can be a problem with the baby,” Murphy said. 

She said that mothers who are moved to ICU for Covid treatment can be there for up to five weeks.

In some cases, mothers may need ECMO, a specialised life support unit that is more intensive than a regular ventilator. The unit is only available in one hospital in the country. 

“Generally, we might have one person a year who needs ECMO, and there has been quite a handful of people who have needed ECMO this year, and that is extraordinary for obstetrics,” Murphy added.

She said that while pregnant women are not more likely to get Covid, they are more prone to symptoms than the rest of the population, adding that pregnancy “has to be thought of as an underlying condition”. 

“If they end up coming in to hospital because of symptoms, they have a 10% risk of ICU admission, which is quite something. 

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Murphy also said that the HSE are developing pop-up vaccine clinics at maternity hospitals this week.

The clinics would be open to all women of any gestation who are not fully vaccinated, as well as their partners, other gynecology patients and staff members. 

This afternoon, public health officials confirmed 1,845 new cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.

There are 497 Covid-19 patients in hospital, of which 99 are in ICU. 

About the author:

Jane Moore

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