NHS England will offer additional support for pregnant Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) women.
Women from ethnic minority backgrounds have been historically known to have additional maternity risks, with substantially higher maternal mortality rates than women of white ethnicity. More than half of the pregnant women hospitalised with COVID-19 have a BAME background, although they account for only a quarter of the births in England and Wales. Recent analysis shows that Black and Asian pregnant women have an eightfold and fourfold higher likelihood of being hospitalised with COVID-19, respectively.
Maternity units across England have been asked to implement four specific actions to cut the additional risk of COVID-19 for BAME women and their offspring:
- Ensure that clinicians have a lower threshold to review, admit and consider multidisciplinary escalation in BAME women.
- Reach out to pregnant BAME women and provide them reassurance through tailored communications.
- Ensure that information regarding vitamins, supplements and nutrition in pregnancy is discussed with the women. Women having a darker skin tone or those who constantly cover their skin are at risk of vitamin D insufficiency and should be offered adequate supplementation.
- Ensure that all providers record ethnicity and other risk factors, such as residence in a deprived area, comorbidities, body mass index and age ≥35 years.
Chief Midwifery Officer for England, Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, said: "While Public Health England is continuing to assess and advise on the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on ethnic groups, I want to make sure that the NHS is doing everything we can to reach out, reassure and support those pregnant women and new mums most at risk."