Information is limited with regards to how COVID-19 has or will affect pregnant women, however in this article I will share what information we do know and how you can conduct yourself safely if you suspect contact with this new virus.
Pregnant women are considered an immuno-compromised population. This is why we recommend that pregnant women limit their contact with sick people and get their Flu vaccines during Influenza season. The same is true with Coronavirus. Anyone who has or is suspected to have the virus should avoid pregnant women, small children, elderly, and basically anyone who is not directly involved in their healthcare or quarantine.
There are two reports involving a total of 18 pregnant women WITH COVID-19 pneumonia
In those reports, there was no laboratory evidence that the baby contracted the virus while the mother was pregnant. Also, there were two confirmed cases of infant transmission after birth, but one was 17 days after birth thought to be due to droplet exposure from close contact with the mother. The other was 36 hours after birth and the route of transmission was unknown.
Infants born to mothers with known or suspected COVID-19, according to the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology, should be treated as persons under investigation and isolated and evaluated.
Regarding breastfeeding according to UpToDate:
It is unknown whether the virus can be transmitted through breast milk; however, droplet transmission could occur through close contact during breastfeeding.
ACOG recommends that mothers with confirmed COVID-19 or symptomatic mothers with suspected COVID-19 take precautions to prevent transmission to the infant during breastfeeding (including assiduous hand hygiene and using a facemask) or consider having a different individual feed expressed breast milk to the infant
Basically, this means that we don’t know if the virus can be transmitted through breast milk, but since we know that droplet can spread the virus, care should be taken to not spread the virus to the infant via close contact.
Regarding infants infected under 1 year of age
Limited study data is present for infants under one year of age. One study involving 9 hospitalized infants reported that none of the infants required intensive care, mechanical ventiliation or had any severe symptoms. Caregivers were instructed to wear respirator masks, wash hands regularly and sterilize infant toys and tableware regularly.
Each of the infected infants had at least one close family member with known infection prior to the infant being diagnosed. This study was limited by the sample size and does not take into account infants who may be assymptomatic and carrying the virus.
All in all, pregnant women need to take the same precautions as the rest of us during these uncertain times, but based on what we presently know, we don’t think that transmission of COVID-19 will occur in the uterus.
If you are pregnant, I hope this information offers some comfort.
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