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If you’re pregnant, here’s what to know about the coronavirus

Published : Friday, 20 March, 2020 at 12:00 AM  Count : 4557

One of the biggest concerns about COVID-19, the illness caused by the new 2019 coronavirus, is how the infection affects pregnant women and their unborn children.
Though evidence is extremely limited, early research suggests the virus cannot be transmitted in the womb.
Still, after reports circulated this weekend that a newborn baby in Britain tested positive for COVID-19 moments after being born, it's clear we need more data about the disease before any conclusions can be made.
Here, we take a look at what we do know and address some of the biggest questions people have about COVID-19 and pregnancy.
Can it be passed to my fetus in the womb?
One of the biggest findings in preliminary research is that the virus doesn't appear to pass from mother to fetus in the womb.
Dr. Wei Zhang, an associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, recently co-authored a studyTrusted Source that looked at 9 pregnant women in China diagnosed with COVID-19 who gave birth via C-section.
His research team tested amniotic fluid, cord blood, baby's throat swab, and breast milk, and didn't find any evidence that the virus could pass from mom to baby in the womb or through a C-section, Zhang said.
The newborn who recently tested positive in England doesn't disprove these findings - there's no information about what kind of preventive measures were taken during delivery or what specimens were tested by the family's medical teams. It's unclear how the baby contracted the virus.
Though the virus doesn't seem to be vertically transmitted, an analysis on 10 newborn babies from mothers with COVID-19 found that the infection does seem to have an adverse effect on newborns - including respiratory distress, thrombocytopenia (a low blood platelet count), and abnormal liver function.
Because of this, health experts agree we need more data to fully assess newborns' risk of contracting the virus.
Which is safer: C-section or vaginal birth?
It's too soon to say.
All of the women included in Zhang's research gave birth via C-section, and the risk linked to vaginal births was not assessed.
Certain viral infections can be passed from mom to baby during delivery, according to Dr. Jessica Madden, a board certified pediatrician, neonatologist, and medical director of Aeroflow Breastpumps.
The flu virus, for example, doesn't pass to babies during vaginal delivery. Other virusesTrusted Source, like HIV and herpes, can spread through blood and bodily fluids, which makes C-sections a safer choice.
There's no proof either birth method is safer at this time with COVID-19.
"Currently, one mode of delivery [is] not recommended over another," Madden said. "I'm under the impression it's the decision of the OB-GYN and it's going to be case by case."
One concern about C-sections is that they require patients to spend more time in the hospital recovering.
"If you increase your hospital stay, you're probably going to increase your risk of getting coronavirus in the hospital since everyone's who is admitted will be acutely ill," said Dr. Brian Levine, a board certified reproductive endocrinologist, OB-GYN, and practice director of CCRM Fertility New York.
Does COVID-19 up my risk of complications?
Again, data is limitedTrusted Source, but one trend observed across pregnant women with COVID-19 is preterm delivery. In a recent webinar geared toward health professionals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shared their findings from evaluating the health data of 34 women from China diagnosed with COVID-19 in the third trimester.    Health Line

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