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San Antonio hospitals report significant rise in pregnant women testing positive for COVID-19

Increases come as Delta variant spreads in Bexar County

SAN ANTONIO – At least three of San Antonio’s major hospital systems report pregnant women are included in the surge of COVID-19 cases brought on by the highly contagious Delta variant.

“We’ve had a huge rise in the number of pregnant cases we’re seeing,” said Dr. Patrick Ramsey, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at University Health and a professor at UT Health.

Ramsey said doctors are now treating as many as three patients at a time compared to May and June.

“We maybe had one a month,” he said, referring to those past few months.

Nikela Pradier, spokeswoman for the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, and Natalie Gutierrez, spokeswoman for Baptist Health System, said their hospitals have seen “a significant increase” of pregnant patients who are COVID-19 positive.

None of the representatives KSAT spoke with had data showing the patients had the Delta variant, but all three said the majority of those patients had not been vaccinated against COVID-19.

But unlike the Children’s Hospital, where its patients have had mild symptoms so far, both University Hospital and Baptist have reported much more serious cases.

“The condition of these patients vary, with some being very ill needing supplemental oxygen, while others require intubation or are in the ICU,” Gutierrez said. “Some of these expectant mothers have delivered their infants prematurely as a result of complications of the virus.”

Monitoring the baby’s heart rate is a vital sign of whether the mother is deteriorating, Ramsey said.

“If a baby gets into trouble while mom is very sick, obviously that may lead to a premature delivery,” to save the baby and the mother, he said.

Although University Hospital has yet to deliver babies prematurely, Ramsey said, “We have some pregnant women that are very sick right now, and we’re watching them very closely.”

He said they’re suffering “really severe respiratory failure.”

Ramsey said the reasons why pregnant women do worse with COVID-19 are the mother’s large belly pushing up the lungs and there’s “a little bit of immunosuppressive state.”

If an expectant mother is being warned against getting the vaccine by their husband or family members, “I would tell you, do your own research,” Ramsey said.

He said there are several reputable websites, including the Centers for Disease Control and the American College for Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Ramsey said the data is “very clear” from 100,000 pregnant women who were vaccinated. He said the shots are safe and effective, even for the fetus.

“I would get the vaccine without hesitancy,” he said. “I recommend that for all my patients.”

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About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.