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If you’re pregnant and trying to assess your risks for infection with coronavirus, there are probably several questions on your mind. Should you wear a mask in public? How worried, overall, should you really be?
Thankfully, the risk of contracting coronavirus is low, but it's understandable if you feel worried. Here's what moms-to-be should know.
Are Pregnant Women More Susceptible to Coronavirus Infection?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do not have information from published scientific reports about the susceptibility of pregnant women to coronavirus. But pregnant women experience immunologic and physiologic changes which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including the novel coronavirus, according to the CDC. Pregnant women also might be at risk for severe illness, morbidity or mortality compared to the general population as observed in cases of other related coronavirus infections. These infections include severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, during pregnancy.
Are Pregnant Women with COVID-19 at Risk for Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes?
According to the CDC, we do not have information on adverse pregnancy outcomes in pregnant women with the novel coronavirus. Pregnancy loss, including miscarriage and stillbirth, has been observed in cases of infection with other related coronaviruses like SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV during pregnancy. It’s important to note that high fevers during the first trimester of pregnancy can increase the risk of certain birth defects.
Can Pregnant Women with COVID-19 Pass the Virus to Their Baby or Newborn?
The virus that causes coronavirus is thought to spread mainly by close contact with an infected person through respiratory droplets. Whether a pregnant woman with coronavirus can transmit the virus that causes it to her baby before, during or after delivery is still unknown. However, in limited recent case series of infants born to mothers with the virus published in peer-reviewed literature, none of the infants have tested positive for the virus that causes coronavirus. Additionally, the virus was not detected in samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk.
Are Babies Born to Moms with COVID-19 During Pregnancy at Increased Risk for Adverse Outcomes?
Based on limited case reports, adverse infant outcomes (e.g., preterm birth) have been reported among infants born to mothers positive for COVID-19 during pregnancy. However, it’s not clear that these outcomes were related to maternal infection, and at this time the risk of adverse infant outcomes is not known. Given the limited data available related to the virus during pregnancy, knowledge of adverse outcomes from other respiratory viral infections may provide some information. For example, other respiratory viral infections during pregnancy, such as influenza, have been associated with adverse neonatal outcomes, including low birth weight and preterm birth. Additionally, having a cold or influenza with high fever early in pregnancy may increase the risk of certain birth defects. Infants have been born preterm and/or small for gestational age to mothers with other coronavirus infections, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, during pregnancy.
Does Coronavirus Transmit Through Breastmilk?
Human-to-human transmission by close contact with a person with a confirmed coronavirus infection 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 coronavirus. No information is available on the transmission of the virus that causes the illness through breast milk (i.e., whether the infectious virus is present in the breast milk of an infected woman). In limited reports of lactating women infected with SARS-CoV, virus has not been detected in breast milk; however, antibodies against SARS-CoV were detected in at least one sample.
To stay up to date with the latest coverage on coronavirus, including how to best protect yourself and your family, visit the CDC online. AdventHealth also has answers to frequently asked questions surrounding coronavirus, available on our Coronavirus Resource Hub. And be sure to discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.