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As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread across the globe, health officials are still learning about the impact on pregnant women and their babies. While there have been no widespread studies to determine whether pregnant women are at a greater risk of contracting the virus or of infected mothers passing it down to their babies, early anecdotal evidence shows pregnant women do not become more seriously ill than the rest of the population, and that mom-to-baby transmission is unlikely.
Still, pregnant women are considered a higher-risk population because of weakened immune systems and should be extra vigilant about hand washing and practicing social distancing, say health officials. “It is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote in an advisory notice. “Pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections.”
The virus does not seem to be making them seriously ill, however. Research shared on PubMed last week examined the severity of COVID-19 in cases reported in pregnant women. In a study of 16 pregnant women with lab-confirmed infection and 25 pregnant women with clinically diagnosed infection, all of the pregnant women had only mild illness. None were admitted to ICU.
The study also found no evidence of mother-to-baby transmission.
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Researchers with the World Health Organization came to a similar conclusion about mother-to-baby transmission. They tested samples of amniotic fluid, cord blood, vaginal discharge, newborn throat swabs and breast milk in women who tested positive for COVID-19 while pregnant. All results have come back negative for the virus, the global organization said.
Backing up this research is a small study published on Monday in Frontiers in Pediatrics, which followed four babies born to COVID-19 mothers in Wuhan, China. The infants were immediately removed from the mothers at birth and three out of the four were tested for the virus 72 hours later with the consent of the parents. All three tests came back negative.
However, the CDC reiterates that these findings are preliminary: “We still do not know if a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can pass the virus that causes COVID-19 to her fetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery.”
They add, “No infants born to mothers with COVID-19 have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. In these cases, which are a small number, the virus was not found in samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk.”
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However, the WHO and CDC differ on how infected mothers should approach …read more