OBGyn in the News

  • Western NY doctor concerned about future of women's health care
    Spectrum News 1 interviewed Vanessa Barnabei, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, in a report on the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court and the ramifications the decision could have on women’s reproductive health care. “It just removes a woman’s personal autonomy from their own health care decisions,” said Barnabei. “We’re already dealing with rising maternal mortality rates in the United States and I think there’s a lot of fear that this could add to that with women seeking unsafe abortions.”
  • More Black people sought births outside hospitals in 2020, report finds
    The Washington Post interviewed Vanessa Barnabei, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, on the increasing number of non-White birthing people seeking hospital alternatives for their labor and deliveries. A report by the National Partnership for Women and Families showed that birth at home or community birthing centers have increased by 20 percent across racial and ethnic lines. The issue arises on how some birthing people need medical interventions, such as surgery or medication. Barnabei said most of the findings of the NPWF were credible, and she agreed that integrating midwifery services into traditional practices can help patients, their babies and physicians. Barnabei did, however, have concerns about the report’s claim that birth center infants were 26 percent less likely to be born preterm compared to those born in hospitals, a stat she called misleading. “They shouldn’t be doing deliveries of preterm births in nonhospital settings,” she said. The story was also published in The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer and on other sites.
  • What happens in NY if Roe v. Wade is overturned? [WBFO]
    WBFO interviewed Vanessa Barnabei, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Jacobs School, in a story about what would happen in New York State is Roe v. Wade is overturned. It is estimated that there are 250 abortion providers in New York State, with many of them in the New York City area. “Coming into New York State, capacity is limited, especially in Western New York,” said Barnabei. She added that there’s already a critical shortage of OB/GYN in the area, with only 2-4 graduates who end up working locally.
  • OBGYN, who’s expecting her first child soon, has a special message about expectant moms and the Covid-19 vaccine [WIVB]
    WIVB reported on the need for pregnant women to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and featured Elana Tal, clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and a physician with UBMD Obstetrics and Gynecology, who is also in her ninth month of pregnancy. She said it is “really frustrating” to hear about her pregnant patients not getting vaccinated because of misinformation they have heard. “I’m scared for my patients who are walking around unvaccinated with the risk factor of pregnancy,” she said. “Naturally, the body diminishes its immune response as a way to have a healthy pregnancy … and we see it across all infections including influenza, that pregnant patients are more likely to get sick.” Tim Murphy, senior associate dean for clinical and translational research in the Jacobs School, was also quoted, noting: “The most important thing we can do to protect infants and children under 5 is to have everybody around them vaccinated.”
  • UB doctors say COVID vaccine is critical for pregnant women
    WKBW reported that UB physicians are “putting out an urgent plea” to pregnant patients to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible. The story quoted Elana Tal, clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and a UBMD Obstetrics and Gynecology physician, who is also pregnant. She said: “I can look a patient in the eye and without any concern tell them we have studied this in thousands and thousands of people and we know it’s safe and effective and it’s risky to decline the vaccine while pregnant…The science is very clear — that getting the vaccine when you're trying to get pregnant or when you already are pregnant is the safest thing you can do for yourself and your baby.” Other sites including MedicalXpress, Lockport Journal and Niagara Gazette also reported on the plea from UB physicians to pregnant people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • UB doctor urges pregnant women to get the COVID-19 vaccine [Spectrum News]
    An article on Spectrum News recommending pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine interviews Sarah Berga, professor and chair of UB’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “You have a 15-fold increased risk of dying,” Berga told the station. “That’s huge. And you have a markedly increased risk in having your baby early, in needing life support particularly respiratory support, you know, intubation.”
  • Doctors and a Buffalo Mom Recommend Those Who Are Pregnant Get the COVID-19 Vaccine [Buffalo News]
    The Buffalo News published a front-page story reporting that physicians are strongly recommending that pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine. The story quotes Sarah L. Berga, MD, professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology, who said, “The alarm bells first sounded when we found out that only 16 percent of pregnant women in the United States, as of May 2021, had been vaccinated with one dose or more of the COVID-19 vaccination. Then we got a louder alarm when we realized how bad things are if you get COVID-19 during pregnancy.”
  • Back to school in a pandemic can be 'perfect storm of infection' for pregnant women [WBFO]
    WBFO broadcast a story about the potential danger of pregnant women getting infected with COVID-19 now that young children are returning to school in-person. The story quoted Sarah L. Berga, MD, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and president of UBMD Obstetrics and Gynecology, who said that the back-to-school scenario may create a "perfect storm for infections." She said we're learning "terrifying" risks to pregnant women who get COVID including a death rate for mothers that is 15 times higher. "We think of pregnancy as a happy time, but it's not happy if you get COVID-19," she said.
  • UB doctor discusses importance of pregnant women getting vaccinated [WIVB]
    WIVB interviewed Sarah Berga, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, about pregnant women, COVID-19 and vaccines. Berga cited a recent CDC report that analyzed one million pregnant women who either had COVID-19 or were vaccinated. “The data were very reassuring in terms of the safety of the vaccines during pregnancy and not very reassuring in terms of what happens to women who get COVID.” She said that data showed that pregnant women “have a remarkably high rate of preterm delivery, which is not good for the baby,” as a result of mothers going into respiratory distress, needing mechanical ventilation and being admitted to an ICU. “Now that we know that vaccination is so safe it really stacks up in favor of getting vaccinated.”
  • The Disproportionate Pandemic Strain on Women [Buffalo News]
    Sarah L. Berga, MD, professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology, was consulted for a story on how the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women. She said the pandemic exposed and “amplified dramatically” existing gender inequities in health care access. “Health care workers were stretched thin; public spaces were scary. Especially for teens coming of age, the pandemic made things worse,” Berga said. “That’s one of the reasons we were so frantic to get telehealth going right away across the United States. Now we understand its benefits, and we understand its limitations. People who are less savvy are less likely to engage with that.”
  • COVID Vaccine Questions for New Moms, Moms-to-Be Answered by OB/GYN Medical Director [WGRZ-TV]
    A WGRZ-TV story about whether pregnant women should consider a COVID-19 vaccination quoted Sarah L. Berga, MD, professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology. “Before, during and after is a good time to get vaccinated,” Berga said. “For baby to be healthy, mom has to be healthy, and this is whether the baby’s inside or the baby’s just come outside.”
  • Berga Comments: Educating New Generation to Drive Progress on Health Issues [AP News]
    Salem College will be offering health sciences, health humanities and health advocacy and humanitarian systems to its curriculum beginning in the fall. Sarah L. Berga, MD, professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology — member of the Salem Academy and College Board of Trustees — says as the nation enters a post-COVID world, it is critical to develop a new generation and network of women prepared to drive progress among the myriad of intersecting health issues.
  • Doctors Dismayed Over Supreme Court Ruling Restricting Birth Control Access [Healio]
    Healio covered the Supreme Court decision allowing employers with religious objections to opt out of providing insurance coverage for contraceptives for employees. The story quotes Vanessa M. Barnabei, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, who noted that half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned and that many of those women who go on to have the baby are at higher risk of maternal mortality in the U.S., which already has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the industrialized world. “If we can prevent unplanned pregnancies in particular, in the long run, it’s cheaper and it’s safer from a public health perspective,” Barnabei said.
  • Barnabei: Shortage of Obstetricians, Gynecologists [WBFO]
    The latest research shows a growing shortage of obstetricians and gynecologists, which poses potential consequences for women’s health care. The shortage is so critical locally, Buffalo ranks sixth among U.S. metropolitan areas. “I counsel and advise a lot of medical students who were thinking about OB/GYN, and they still have this perception of OB/GYN as a very difficult lifestyle, and it scares people away,” says Vanessa M. Barnabei, MD, professor and outgoing chair of obstetrics and gynecology. “The biggest pool of OB/GYNs we have is from our own (UB) training program,” says Barnabei. “Right now, we train 8 per year. So we typically have 2-4 of those people staying in the community.”
  • Potential OB-GYN Shortfall in US Presents Serious Public Health Challenge [Healio]
    Helio reports on the potential OB-GYN shortfall in U.S. and how it presents a serious public health challenge. The story quotes Vanessa M. Barnabei, MD, PhD, professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology, who discussed how older physicians are not retiring to make room for new physicians in the community, making it more difficult for younger physicians to establish a practice. She said that “maybe these older physicians need to think about retiring sooner to turn over their practices to younger people, who then can stay in the community for the next 30 or 35 years.”