Know the Facts about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Coronavirus Info for Expecting Mothers

Daniel Grace, MD, and Marcy Mulconry, MD, answer questions about whether expecting mothers are more at risk of contracting coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

March 20, 2020

Pregnant woman getting tested

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease that has infected more than 250,000 people worldwide. All demographics and age groups are at risk for infection, but as expecting women and families with newborn babies seek more information about whether they’re at greater risk, we spoke to Daniel Grace, MD, Maternal-fetal Medicine Specialist at Rochester Regional Health, and Marcy Mulconry, MD, OBGYN at Rochester Regional Health, for their input.

Q: Are pregnant women more susceptible to COVID-19 than other groups?

In general, pregnant women are at a higher risk for infection from all viruses because their immune systems are working to build up protection for their unborn child.

According to the CDC, there is currently no published scientific reports that pregnant women or newborn babies are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 than other groups.

That being said, pregnant women should continue to follow guidelines from their OBGYN and primary care providers, like taking their prenatal vitamins, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding the use of drugs and alcohol.
 
Know the Facts of COVID-19

Q: Can pregnant women with COVID-19 pass the virus to their unborn child or newborn?

The primary way that the virus spreads is from close contact with an infected person and through droplets in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The CDC says that it is still unknown whether a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can transmit the virus to her unborn child. 
 
However, recent studies published in peer-reviewed literature on infants born to mothers with COVID-19 showed that no infants tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 at the time of publication, nor was the virus detected in samples of amniotic fluid or breast milk, according to the CDC.

Q: Is there anything that pregnant women can do to reduce their risk of becoming infected?

Pregnant women should continue to follow guidelines from their OBGYN and primary care providers to help ensure a healthy pregnancy. Pregnant women should also practice good hygiene like handwashing with soap and water for 20 seconds, avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, stay home and practice social distancing, and cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Q: What’s the difference between COVID-19 and the Zika virus?

The Zika virus is a dangerous virus that is spread mostly by mosquitoes. According to the CDC, Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her unborn child and infection during pregnancy can cause birth defects.

There were no reported cases of local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission in the continental U.S. in 2018 or 2019.

COVID-19 is mostly spread through droplets in the air, similar to how the seasonal flu spreads. There is much more evidence showing a pregnant woman can spread Zika to her unborn child than there is showing she can spread COVID-19 to her unborn child.

Q: What restrictions are there in hospitals for visiting expectant mothers?

Rochester Regional Health is being cautious in limiting the potential for community exposure to health teams and patients. This is an important time in someone’s life. One support person is allowed to accompany a patient in the maternity units.

Q: How can people buy formula given the many empty shelves in the grocery stores?

In some cases, grocery stores don’t have some of these items. Companies are working with pediatrics and women’s health care colleagues for a way to access formula. Companies are letting patients order directly from either its website or by phone. Those orders are being shipped directly to patients using formula. 

Q: Should expecting mothers be considering a home birth?

Home birth is never a safer choice. In this circumstance of COVID-19 it is still not a safer choice to deliver at home. 

Q: Do you have any recommendations for online birth classes or videos since in-person classes are cancelled?

Yes, birthing classes have been cancelled. Rochester Regional Health is in the process of launching an online birthing class. Patients who are seeking care at Rochester Regional Health will receive information on how to access that the week of March 23. Another engaging education tool is being sent out to patients in the beginning of pregnancy with additional online videos.

Stay informed about COVID-19 in your area

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