Recent analysis shows Black pregnant women are eight times more likely to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19, while Asian women are four times as likely.
Urgent action is being taken by the NHS in England to protect expectant mums, including increasing uptake of important Vitamin D and undertaking outreach in neighbourhoods and communities in their area.
Women from ethnic minority backgrounds have long been known to face additional maternity risks, with maternal mortality rates significantly higher than for white women.
But now research from Oxford University shows that 55% of the pregnant women admitted to hospital with COVID-19 are from a BAME background, even though they only make up a quarter of the births in England and Wales.
Further analysis of the research indicates that Asian women are four times more likely than white women to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19 during pregnancy, while Black women are eight times more likely.
Chief Midwifery Officer for England, Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, said: “We know that pregnant women from a BAME background are twice as likely to be admitted to hospital with Covid-19 compared to white women, which is why we’re helping midwives take sensible extra steps to protect mum and baby.
“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.
The pandemic outbreak has caused some people to worry about seeking help from the NHS, and there has been a decrease in attendances for some NHS services. Warning signs like unusual fetal movement have also been dismissed by some women in fear that going to hospital is of greater risk to them, with local services today asked to deliver outreach programmes for at-risk communities.
Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent continued: “Understandably, the pandemic has caused pregnant women increased anxiety over the last couple of months, but I want to make sure that every pregnant woman in England knows that the NHS is here for them'
If you have any doubt whatsoever that something isn’t right with you or your baby, contact your midwife immediately, we are here for you.