None of us has seen anything like the coronavirus pandemic before. We are facing the worst public health crisis in a generation, and the virus is quickly affecting just about every aspect of people’s lives, including the birth of our children.
Understandably, many mums-to-be are asking if the Covid19 can be passed to the baby in utero. The virus and protocols are so new that limited information is available but there has been some encouraging news for pregnant women who may be exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease.
According to a new observational study on women with COVID-19 in their third trimester of pregnancy, the virus does not appear to travel across the placenta from mother to cause infection of the fetus.
In China, where the outbreak began, 38 documented cases of pregnant women in China diagnosed with COVID-19 were observed.
All women, between the ages of 26 and 40, were in their third trimester when they developed the infection. All women affected delivered via C-section. Thirty hours after birth, a newborn from a coronavirus-infected mother also tested positive for the virus.
To confirm if the virus was transmitted before, during or after birth, physicians and researchers looked at samples of amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood, breast milk and samples from the newborn’s throat. It was concluded a mother does not pass the virus to the baby in utero. Physicians suspect the baby was infected after touching the mother.
Significantly, as of the observational study’s publication date, there were no confirmed cases of prenatal transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from mother to infant.
In those cases where amniotic fluid, placentas, umbilical cord blood and throat swabs of newborns were tested, all were negative for the virus despite some cases of pre- and post-birth complications. Fortunately, in the 38 women evaluated in this article, COVID-19 does not appear to cause maternal death which is reassuring at this moment in time for mums-to-be.
These practical tips are very important to follow in order to reduce risk of infection:
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
• Vaccinations – Stay up to date on vaccinations, including the influenza vaccine.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Maintain at least six feet of distance from anyone exhibiting obvious symptoms.
• Stay home when you are sick.