Title

Pandemics and maternal health: the indirect effects of COVID-19

Author Information

Dominique Nuala Lucas
James Bamber

Date of Publication

2021 12:00 AM

Security Theme

Health

Keywords

infectious diseases, COVID-19, pregnant women, abnormal blood pressure, mental health issues, sex-based violence, maternal health, healthcare, vaccination for pregnant women, social deprivation

Description

Infectious diseases can directly affect women and men differently. During the COVID-19 pandemic, higher case fatality rates have been observed in men in most countries. There is growing evidence, however, that while organisational changes to healthcare delivery have occurred to protect those vulnerable to the virus (staff and patients), these may lead to indirect, potentially harmful consequences, particularly to vulnerable groups including pregnant women. These encompass reduced access to antenatal and postnatal care, with a lack of in-person clinics impacting the ability to screen for physical, psychological and social issues such as elevated blood pressure, mental health issues and sex-based violence. Indirect consequences also encompass a lack of equity when considering the inclusion of pregnant women in COVID-19 research and their absence from vaccine trials, leading to a lack of safety data for breastfeeding and pregnant women. The risk-benefit analysis of these changes to healthcare delivery remains to be fully evaluated, but the battle against COVID-19 cannot come at the expense of losing existing quality standards in other areas of healthcare, especially for maternal health.

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Jan 1st, 12:00 AM

Pandemics and maternal health: the indirect effects of COVID-19

Infectious diseases can directly affect women and men differently. During the COVID-19 pandemic, higher case fatality rates have been observed in men in most countries. There is growing evidence, however, that while organisational changes to healthcare delivery have occurred to protect those vulnerable to the virus (staff and patients), these may lead to indirect, potentially harmful consequences, particularly to vulnerable groups including pregnant women. These encompass reduced access to antenatal and postnatal care, with a lack of in-person clinics impacting the ability to screen for physical, psychological and social issues such as elevated blood pressure, mental health issues and sex-based violence. Indirect consequences also encompass a lack of equity when considering the inclusion of pregnant women in COVID-19 research and their absence from vaccine trials, leading to a lack of safety data for breastfeeding and pregnant women. The risk-benefit analysis of these changes to healthcare delivery remains to be fully evaluated, but the battle against COVID-19 cannot come at the expense of losing existing quality standards in other areas of healthcare, especially for maternal health.