Coronavirus

Explained: Are pregnant women at higher risk of COVID 19, what experts say?

There is no evidence for vertical transmission but it is known that pregnancy involves a risk


A three-day-old baby and his mother tested positive for COVID-19 in a private lab in Mumbai. But the second report was tested negative in Kasturba Hospital. The incident gave rise to speculations if pregnant are at of  risk of transmitting the infection to the baby during pregnancy. Notably, there is no concrete evidence for vertical transmission of SARS-CoV2 from the pregnant women to her foetus. However, it is known that pregnancy involves a risk, after birth, of adverse outcomes from many respiratory viral infections. Various experts have said that the mother can transmit the virus to her kid while breastfeeding or the kid can get it from hospital environment.

The WHO has not found any evidence of pregnant women being more vulnerable or at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, than the general population. However, the World Health Organization has advised pregnant women to wash their hands frequently, avoid crowded places and practice respiratory hygiene.

Experts of the College of American Pathologists flagged the concern of mothers transmitting the infection to newborn or foetus in the Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. They cited the recent history of vertical maternal-foetal transmission of these kinds of emerging viral infections like Ebola virus, Zika virus, Ebola virus, Marburg virus, and other agents.

An article in the Lancet Infectious Disease on March 24 also flagged the concern. However, it noted that the potential risk of vertical transmission is not clear.

Read more: Bats give deadly viruses to humankind: How do they survive with many viruses in their body?

Here is what an expert has to say?

Dr R R Gangakhedkar, Head of the Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases Division at Indian Council of Medical Research spoke to a newspaper for the same. He said that maternal management and foetal safety are a significant concern, but the COVID-19 infection is at a low level. Also there is lack of enough cases to conduct a study on the vulnerability of pregnant women and whether they can vertically transmit coronavirus to their babies.

He informed that the ICMR’s pregnancy registry, obstetricians are asked to provide information about any adverse outcomes. There is no evidence so far. A pregnant woman, who recently delivered at AIIMS was recently found positive with COVID-19. The stress is therefore on respiratory and personal hygiene, including handwashing and social distancing.

No reliable evidence so far, recommends any specific coronavirus treatment for pregnant women. Clinical trials would be needed to prove the effectiveness of medicines and the effects on the foetus to establish a standardised treatment before allowing medicines or drugs for pregnant women.

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