29 pregnant women at Gosha Hospital died in 2nd wave

29 out of 604 pregnant women at Bengaluru's Gosha Hospital died in second Covid wave

Such maternal deaths are entirely Covid-related and are uncommon, doctors insist

Gosha Hospital was made an exclusive Covid hospital for pregnant women during both waves of the pandemic. Credit: DH file photo/Pushkar V

Twenty-nine out of 604 pregnant mothers admitted to the government-run Gosha Hospital died during the second Covid wave, from March to July, which hospital authorities said is unusually high maternal mortality.

Gosha had been made an exclusive Covid hospital for pregnant mothers infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus during both waves of the pandemic.

Some of the deceased mothers still carried their babies, while others delivered premature babies before dying. Authorities pointed out that such rate of maternal mortality does not happen during non-Covid times.

Six of the mothers suffered miscarriages, 15 had stillbirths, 63 babies were born pre-term (due to blood clots as a result of Covid) and 89 mothers required ICU care.

Hospital medical superintendent Dr Tulasi Devi told DH: “These mothers had come with severe respiratory tract infection. The distress was high, which caused their deaths. Maternal deaths usually happen because of obstructed labour, postpartum haemorrhage (excessive bleeding after childbirth) or eclampsia (seizures that occur during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth).”

Dr Tulasi pointed out that those deaths are different from Covid deaths. “Such deaths have never occurred before when we saw maternal deaths at our hospital. These maternal deaths happened due to the Covid infection only.”

Most deceased mothers are in the 25-30 age group. While a few delivered the babies, some died with the baby still inside. “Some others died soon after the delivery,” Dr Tulasi said.

The hospital prioritised saving both the mother and the baby when they dealt with pregnant women severely infected with Covid. “We opt for a Caesarean section in order to save the mother,” Dr Tulasi said.

If the baby is pre-term and cannot tolerate the Covid infection, a gravid uterus at 28 to 32 weeks gestation puts pressure on the lungs. “If the mother exhibits respiratory distress, we feel evacuating the uterus reduces the respiratory symptom. So, we opt for a delivery to save the mother,” she added.

Pre-term babies born to such mothers via C-section recovered and went home, much to the relief of the family.

“At Gosha, 15-20 non-Covid mothers deliver vaginally or post-surgery every day. Except in Covid, no maternal death has happened because of low oxygen saturation. We see to it that it doesn’t happen in non-Covid mothers, where the overall case fatality rate is not more than 1%,” Dr Tulasi said.

Miscarriages, pre-term deliveries and stillbirths can be attributed to a prothrombotic state known to be caused by Covid-19, where an abnormality of blood coagulation increases the risk of blood clots in the blood vessels.

In February, the hospital reverted to delivering non-Covid mothers when the first wave had ebbed. When the second wave started, the hospital provided obstetric services only to Covid-positive mothers.

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