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ST. LOUIS – As the Omicron variant of COVID still surges throughout the St. Louis region, Barnes-Jewish Hospital says it is seeing the impact on pregnant women.

Dr. Ebony Carter, a Washington University high-risk OB/GYN, says approximately 37% of pregnant women were COVID positive when they arrived at the hospital this week. Last week, said it was up to 45%.

“We’ve never seen numbers this high,” said Dr. Carter.

She explains that when the Delta variant was surging in August 20% of pregnant women in the hospital were testing positive for COVID.

Barnes-Jewish Hospital is doing universal testing for all patients that enter the hospital.

Dr. Carter explained when comparing pregnant people to non-pregnant people admitted to the hospital, pregnant patients are 50% more likely to have COVID at this point.

She says she has heard from several patients that they want to wait until after the baby is born to either get the vaccine or the booster. She explains that the vaccine and booster are the best way to protect against hospitalization during pregnancy. She says it also increases the chances of pre-term birth or delivering a stillborn baby.

“Pregnancy is also a high-risk time for getting infection because you don’t have the same immune defenses because you don’t want to attack this baby that’s growing inside of you. So for that reason, I think pregnant patients, when you have a huge surge like this, are at much higher risk, not just because of pregnancy, but because they don’t have the protection of vaccination the same way like the rest of the population does,” explained Dr. Carter.

Dr. Carter says if you are boosted during pregnancy, there is a 90% reduction in a patient needing to be hospitalized. She said if a patient only has two doses, it drops to a 60% reduction in needing hospitalization.

Barnes-Jewish medical experts also say that recent studies have determined that women who received a COVID booster had a higher likelihood of passing on protective antibodies to their babies.