As the cases of coronavirus rise around the world, we all are continuously cautioned to take apt precautions and not get infected. Researchers are working, day and night, to gain more information about the Coronavirus impact on people’s lives. But what about all those females who are in the beautiful phase of their lives – pregnancy? Are their babies at risk? Research is currently underway to understand the impacts & Risk of COVID-19 infection in pregnant women & babies.
So far the information is somewhat insufficient. In China, pregnant ladies, suffering from the pandemic, are treated in special hospitals. However, according to the preliminary reports, it was said that pregnant people or their recently born babies will not be affected.
How the Coronavirus Spreads
The virus spreads through respiratory droplets sent into the air when a person who has COVID-19 coughs or sneezes. It may also spread when someone touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their mouth, the inside of their nose, or their eyes. Current evidence suggests that the incubation period of the virus is anywhere from two to 14 days. It’s possible that someone could be infected but not have any symptoms and be able to spread the virus.
According to Dr. Erica D Watson (lecturer in Reproductive Biology at The University of Cambridge) the immune system of the pregnant ladies, during pregnancy, tends to grow weaker. The later stages of pregnancy include the compression of the body organs by fetus and uterus such as lungs. Accordingly, some areas of the lungs are not able to circulate air like they ideally should, thus making them more susceptible to the infection.
According to David Baud at Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland, in some cases, some infections can be passed on to the fetus, before and during the birth, which can put the fetus in jeopardy and at times it can damage the fetus or may cause premature birth or miscarriage.
The risk of serious illness from SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) are pretty much similar to the COVID-19 Pandemic; however, there is inadequate evidence for this.
New Case Studies: Risk of COVID-19 Infection in Pregnant Women and Babies
A report, by Dr. Yalan Liu and her team at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, covered a case of four women in China, infected with the virus, who was ailing at the time of giving birth to their babies. However, the doctors found no signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in newborn babies.
As per Dr. Yalan Liu’s research works, one of the babies had breathing issues but with few days of treatment, the baby recovered well. Two of them reportedly had rashes, but they vanished after a couple of days without any treatment. Three other babies also underwent tests for the virus, but doctors found no symptoms of the virus.
According to another study, all ten newborn babies were tested for the virus and none of them came out as positive.
A report by Pat O’Brien (vice president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), UK) confirmed that fifteen women, all of them were coronavirus positive during pregnancy, had no evidence of severe symptoms as compared to the women who were not pregnant. The best thing about this report was that these pregnant women exhibited impressive recovery signs and that too without any antiviral drugs. You should also read about the Use of antiviral drugs to reduce COVID-19 transmission.
“At the moment, there’s no evidence indicates the rising risk of miscarriage,” says O’Brien, who co-authored RCOG’s new guidance on COVID-19 in pregnancy, published on 9 March. He added that he is looking for additional information on this.
Newborn Separation From Their Mother to Avoid the Coronavirus Infection
In China, doctors and other health experts are acting cautiously. All the females who were diagnosed positive with the virus, before giving birth, are being deserted from their newborn babies for a period of two weeks. The babies are being formula fed and they appear to be healthy.
In America, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has also exhibited interest to adopt the same measures. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending similar measures. On the other hand, The United Kingdom has shown no such interest. According to Pat, it is not an easy decision to make and it is all about striking a balance between the advantages and disadvantages. In case the newborn babies are being separated from the mother, the benefits of bonding will be lost.
He added that females who successfully recover from the virus before giving birth, start to develop antibodies against the virus. However, Pat and his team don’t have an exact answer and they are also waiting for the reports from the hospitals where new mothers are being treated.
David Baud recommended that pregnant females should avoid crowded places and should practice safe sanitation and cleaning. He has also recommended the doctors to closely monitor pregnant females once they have successfully recovered from the infection.
Early reports suggest that the virus doesn’t pass from mother to baby via breastmilk. But health bodies are advising new mothers who are infected with the virus to take precautions while breastfeeding, such as washing their hands and wearing a face mask.
What is My Risk of Becoming Very Ill if I Do Have COVID-19?
Given that this is a novel virus, little is known about its impact on pregnant women. At this time:
No evidence shows that being pregnant increases a woman’s risk for getting COVID-19, or her risk of developing severe symptoms if she has the disease.
Experts think that pregnant women are just as likely as the general public to develop symptoms if infected with the new coronavirus. Current information suggests symptoms are likely to be mild to moderate, as is true for women (and men) in this age range who are not pregnant.
The United Kingdom declared pregnant women a vulnerable patient population. However, that statement is not based on any evidence demonstrating increased risk to pregnant women from COVID-19. With the flu, data show pregnant women are likely to experience more serious illness than the general population. Based on this data, some experts are advising caution and suggesting that pregnant women may be vulnerable to more serious illness if they get COVID-19. However, this is not based on any evidence from Coronavirus Cases, but on historical data from other viral infections. Given the lack of evidence, we recommend that pregnant women continue to practice social distancing and excellent hand hygiene.
If pregnant women who are health care providers are concerned about their risk of exposure to COVID-19, we recommend that they discuss their concerns with their supervisor. At this time, no US guidelines restrict pregnant health care worker’s ability to care for patients. The best thing you can do is, track COVID-19 cases around you and everywhere in real-time with Corona Warriors & avoid any ignorant behavior towards the pandemic.