Health leaders urge more pregnant COVID-19 patients to consider antibody therapy

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Doctors with UT Health and Dell Medical School are urging more pregnant COVID-19 patients and their doctors to consider monoclonal antibody therapy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are also recommending the treatment.

“We definitely did not plan to start a family,” said Caitlin Bailey, a new mom.

Bailey and her partner especially didn’t plan to start a family during a pandemic.

“My mom was sad; she didn’t get to go to the hospital or anything like that,” she said.

The family of three contracted COVID-19 two months after baby Emory was born. Now pregnant with her second child, they’re still holding off on getting vaccinated.

“We want to wait until there’s a little more research out there on it,” Bailey explained.

It’s a sentiment doctors are still trying to fight, including Alison Cahill at UT Health Austin’s Women’s Health Institute.

“We worry a lot about what we don’t know, but there are things we do know also in this space,” said Cahill, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Ascension Seton.

The CDC says pregnant women are more likely to contract severe COVID-19 illness compared to those who aren’t pregnant, even up to 42 days after their pregnancy.

“The truth is that what we’re seeing is that the disease itself is doing horrible things to moms and their unborn kids,” she said.

Cahill is also a professor at Dell Medical School.

They’re recommending pregnant COVID-19 patients also get monoclonal antibody therapy within the first 10 days of symptoms. With a doctor’s referral, it’s free at the regional infusion center inside the Travis County Expo Center.

“I think with each individual patient, based on their risk of developing severe COVID, it’s a discussion with the patient and the doctor about what’s best in that scenario,” said Dr. Manish Naik, chief medical officer at Austin Regional Clinic.

Bailey says she’s open to the therapy as she heads into her second pandemic pregnancy. It helped her grandfather recover from the virus.

“Definitely helps knowing that I have an option,” she said.

Health leaders still say even with antibody treatment options, getting vaccinated is still the best way to prevent a severe illness from COVID-19.

Last week, the CDC reported a rise in the number of pregnant women infected with the virus. It also said data from nearly 2,500 pregnant women who got the vaccine before 20 weeks did not face any increased risk of miscarriage.

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