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Are pregnant women at a higher risk of covid-19? This is what a gynaecologist has to say

Published on:1 April 2020, 12:29pm IST
While public health agencies the world over scramble to understand covid-19, the infectious disease’s impact on pregnant women is yet to be understood.
Dr Uma Vaidyanathan
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Dear pregnant women, just a few precautions can keep you safe from coronavirus. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Though the government of India is taking stringent steps to create awareness among people about the covid-19 pandemic, its harmful effects on pregnancy still pose a big question.

When it comes to pregnancy and covid-19, the information we have till date is based on the data from all over the world and guidelines released by American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, UK. Needless to say that since it is a new infection, not much research is available on the subject.

So, how can pregnant women protect themselves and their foetuses from this infectious disease? Well, for starters they should do the same things as the general public to avoid the infection. Following are the steps they should follow:

  • Maintain distance from sick people, especially those showing flu-like symptoms
  • Clean your hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid unnecessary travelling and opt for work from home, even after the lockdown ends
  • Avoid visiting the hospital unless it’s urgent

    Also read: In the wake of coronavirus, adopt these 5 ways to boost your immunity

    Can covid-19 impact pregnant women severely?
    Research till date indicates that pregnant women don’t show any symptoms that suggest that they are differently affected by the pandemic. They may experience symptoms like a mild flu.

    pregnancy and covid-19
    So far there is no research to indicate that pregnant women are at a higher risk of covid-19. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

    Severe symptoms such as pneumonia have been noticed in older people, people with medical history of diseases like asthma or diabetes, and people with weak immunity.

    Can covid-19 increase the risk of miscarriage?
    There is no evidence to suggest an increase in the risk of miscarriage. That said, since this is a new virus, there is limited evidence on the matter. According to reports from China, there haven’t been any cases in which covid-19 was transmitted from the mother to the baby in the womb. No infant born to a mother with covid-19 has tested positive for the virus. The virus was also not detected in samples of amniotic fluid or breast milk.

    Though, if you are suspected or confirmed positive for coronavirus during pregnancy, your baby will be tested. There are some cases in China, where women who tested positive for coronavirus were advised to stay away from their baby for 14 days.

    Is breastfeeding safe?
    Also, since the virus hasn’t been detected in breast milk so far, it’s felt that the well-recognized benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmitting coronavirus through breast milk.

    The main risk of breastfeeding is close contact between you and your baby, as you may share infectious airborne droplets, leading to infection in your baby. Consider wearing a face mask while breastfeeding if you are suspected of or have tested positive for covid-19.

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Dr Uma Vaidyanathan Dr Uma Vaidyanathan

Dr Uma is a senior consultant at obstetrics and gynaecology department, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh.