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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Alabama doctors and are urging expecting mothers to get the COVID-19 vaccine, this as the University of Alabama Birmingham reveals research findings on the impacts of the Delta variant on pregnant patients.

UAB doctors say they have seen more severe illness in pregnant women with the Delta variant of COVID-19.

“Early in the pandemic, we may have one or two critically ill patients a week. We actually saw these numbers significantly rise in July and August. Between 20 and 40 percent of our admitted pregnant patients were actually admitted to an ICU setting,” Dr. Akila Subramaniam.

Doctor Akila Subramaniam says pregnant women being sent to the ICU isn’t the only concern.

“Not only just an increase in severe or critical illness but also the need for escalation and respiratory support and when I say that I mean not just oxygen and high flow oxygen but also the need for intubation and ventilation,” says Dr. Subramaniam.

The impacts of fighting the virus have more than just an impact on the mom, doctors say.

“We saw outcomes including pre-term birth and this is not necessarily spontaneous pre-term birth but really indicated pre-term birth. We affected as physicians, a pre-term birth for the benefit of the mother. Which then leads to premature infants,” says Dr. Subramaniam.

That’s why Dr. Subramaniam says getting vaccinated is so important for pregnant women. And she says getting vaccinated against the virus isn’t just beneficial for the mom, it can help the baby too.

“Moms who develop an antibody response in response to some of these vaccinations can actually protect their newborns it can also appear in some amounts in breastmilk and so those are things that can protect a vulnerable population, a new newborn from infection down the road,” says Dr. Subramaniam.

Doctors say it’s important to look at the relationship between the mother and a newborn baby. If a mother gets COVID-19, then the baby is more likely to have COVID-19 at birth, which makes them more likely to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit.