What We Know About Coronavirus and Pregnancy

The news around the novel coronavirus has been a constantly updated mix of confusing information and total myth. While scientists around the world race to create a vaccine and to understand the details of how COVID-19 spreads and why it is mild in some people and deadly in others, many of us are wondering how it will impact our families, especially expecting mothers.

With that in mind, we combed through the most recent data to find out what we can about how risky coronavirus is for pregnant women and what do to if you are expecting and become infected with the novel virus.

Here is what we know about the novel coronavirus and pregnancy:

Are pregnant women at higher risk of becoming infected by COVID-19?

According to the CDC, there is little information about this new virus but we can easily assume that since COVID-19 is in the coronavirus family as is influenza, SARS, MERS, and H1N1, expecting women appeared to be more susceptible for viral respiratory infections. This could be because pregnant women undergo immunologic and physiologic changes during pregnancy from pregnancy hormones that can suppress their immune systems.

Are pregnant women who become infected with COVID-19 at risk for adverse outcomes?

Yes. Although there is not documented reporting of birth outcomes yet because this outbreak is so new, scientists do know that the family of viruses that COVID-19 is a part of does have documented negative outcomes including pregnancy loss, miscarriage, and stillbirth. The CDC warns that high fevers during the first trimester can increase the risks of certain birth defects. So, if you have a high fever, call your doctor immediately.

Can an infected mother pass COVID-19 on to her fetus or newborn?

 There is anecdotal evidence that mothers who are infected with COVID-19 and who gave birth did not pass the virus on to their children. Furthermore, mothers who are infected with COVID-19 and who are breastfeeding have not been shown to pass it on.

This is an excerpt from the CDC:

“The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly by close contact with an infected person through respiratory droplets. Whether a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can transmit the virus that causes COVID-19 to her fetus or neonate by other routes of vertical transmission (before, during, or after delivery) is still unknown. However, in limited recent case series of infants born to mothers with COVID-19 published in the peer-reviewed literature, none of the infants have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. Additionally, the virus was not detected in samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk.”

Are there long-term effects of COBID-19 on pregnant or nursing women or on newborns and babies?

At this time, there is not enough information or studies to understand the long-term effects of coronavirus on patients who have recovered from an infection.

Are babies safe to breastfeed if the mother is infected with COVID-19?

Yes and no. Babies have not been found to have been infected with COVID-19 through breastmilk, however, they are getting sick because the main way that this virus is transmitted is through droplets from coughing and sneezing even if it comes from the mother.

This is how the CDC explained it:

“A: Human-to-human transmission by close contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19 has been reported and is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when a person with infection coughs or sneezes.

In limited case series reported to date, no evidence of virus has been found in the breast milk of women with COVID-19. No information is available on the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 through breast milk (i.e., whether an infectious virus is present in the breast milk of an infected woman).

In limited reports of lactating women infected with SARS-CoV, the virus has not been detected in breast milk; however, antibodies against SARS-CoV were detected in at least one sample.”

For more information on COVID-19 as it becomes available, you can read the CDC, WHO, and Healthline which has been giving live updates from around the world.

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Visit the Centers for Disease Control at CDC.gov or the World Health Organization at Who.int for the latest information on the coronavirus and learn what you can do to stop the spread.