PHOENIX (PRWEB) April 29, 2020
One of the greatest concerns currently facing doctors and scientists is how COVID-19 affects certain members of the population, especially pregnant women and their unborn children.
Though research is ongoing, early indications suggest unborn babies cannot pick up the virus in the womb; however, pregnancy may compound a woman’s reaction to respiratory infections caused by COVID-19 including fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Doctors recommend pregnant women take extra precautions to protect themselves and their unborn children.
Novel Coronavirus and COVID-19
Coronaviruses are a group of ribonucleic acid (RNA) viruses that cause disease in humans and animals. Coronavirus is so-named because under a microscope it appears to have corona, or crown-like, spikes covering its surface.
These are common viruses that cause mild upper-respiratory tract (throat, sinus, or nose) infections, and the majority are not dangerous. Many different types of coronaviruses exist, and most people contract a related infection at some point in their lives, usually as children.
In 2019, a novel (or new) coronavirus was pinpointed in Wuhan China and cases quickly spread across the globe to the U.S. In February 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) dubbed this novel coronavirus ‘COVID-19’ (‘CO’ represents ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ stands for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease).
The COVID-19 global pandemic continues to escalate, spreading the contagion at an alarming rate.
How COVID-19 Spreads
Researchers now know that COVID-19 spreads from person to person much like a cold virus. Spreading happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks and virus-filled droplets are released into the air. These droplets can then be inhaled by people within six feet of each other.
Recent studies have shown COVID-19 could be spread by people who have displayed no symptoms and symptoms can appear within 14 days of exposure. This is why social distancing of at least six feet is important, especially for pregnant women.
Anyone exhibiting coronavirus symptoms including respiratory difficulty should call their doctor or healthcare provider and explain their symptoms over the phone. If symptoms are mild enough, home rest and self-quarantine may be recommended. Patients with severe shortness of breath should call 911 immediately. Infrequently, COVID-19 can cause serious respiratory issues, kidney failure, or death.
Other COVID-19 symptoms may include:
- Loss of smell or taste
- Muscle aches
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
Pregnant Moms Advised to Take Precautions Against COVID-19
Health organizations have yet to discover symptoms or risks specific to COVID-19 among pregnant women. Despite this, it may be too soon for doctors and researchers to say definitively COVID-19 does not affect pregnant women more than the general public.
A woman’s body chemistry, hormones, and her immune system go through changes during pregnancy. As a consequence, pregnant women may experience notably adverse reactions to respiratory viruses and other illnesses related to COVID-19.
Maternal fever in the first trimester of pregnancy has been shown to heighten birth-defect risks. Therefore, pregnant mothers should follow general safety precautions for lowering their risk for fever-causing illnesses. These precautions include:
- Social distancing
- Minimal in-person interactions
- Wearing gloves and masks in public
- Staying home as much as possible
- Avoiding those who are sick or have been exposed to the virus
- Cleaning and disinfecting often-touched surfaces
- Avoiding crowds
- Staying in contact with healthcare providers
COVID-19 Infections Not Likely Transferred in the Womb
Few babies have tested positive for COVID-19 immediately after birth; however, researchers are still unclear whether these newborns picked up the virus “vertically.”
Vertical transmissions typically occur through the placenta, the organ that maintains the fetus through the umbilical cord and the way in which unborn babies receive nutrients. The virus has yet to be discovered in breastmilk, cord blood, amniotic fluid, or other maternal fluids, but maternal-fetal transmission cannot be eliminated.
Certain viral infections can be passed to an unborn baby during pregnancy including HIV and forms of streptococcus, herpes, and hepatitis. However, during the coronavirus outbreak of 2002-04 known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), pregnant women were tested and no vertical transmissions from mother to baby were found. SARS shares nearly 80% of its genetic make-up with COVID-19.
In a cohort study discussed in JAMA Pediatrics, babies born to 33 mothers with COVID-19 were tested and early-onset infection was found in three of the babies two days after birth. Though some experts believe the infections likely happened post-birth, the study’s scientists stress that transmission within the uterus should not be ruled out.
C-Section Versus Vaginal Births
Even though some viral infections can be passed from mother to baby during vaginal delivery, not all of them do. The influenza virus, for example, is not passed to babies this way. On the other hand, C-sections (caesarian sections) are a safer choice for mothers with herpes or HIV, since these infections can spread through the blood and other bodily fluids.
Currently, doctors are not endorsing one method of delivery over another for mothers diagnosed with COVID-19. The WHO maintains that C-sections should only be performed when medically warranted.
A woman’s preference along with obstetric indications should continue to govern when to employ one mode of delivery over another. One consideration pointed out by doctors, however, is that COVID-19 exposure increases as a mother spend time in the hospital recovering from her C-section procedure.
Regardless, hospital administrators state that extra precautions are being taken to ensure operating rooms are environmentally sterile and operating room staff is virus-free.
About Birth Injury Lawyers Group
Birth Injury Lawyers Group was founded in 2003 by Robert Goldwater to furnish useful information to the families of children injured at birth.