Pregnancy In The Times Of A Pandemic: What Impact Can COVID-19 Have On Moms-To-Be And Babies

Pregnancy In The Times Of A Pandemic: What Impact Can COVID-19 Have On Moms-To-Be And Babies

While information regarding COVID-19 and pregnancy is limited, doctors say that due to the changing immune system during pregnancy, women need to take extra precautions to avoid infections
Coronavirus Outbreak, News, Swasth India
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Can coronavirus be transmitted from a COVID-19 positive mother to the fetus? Here is what experts have to sayCan coronavirus be transmitted from a COVID-19 positive mother to the fetus? Here is what experts have to say
Highlights
  • Being in a delicate condition, pregnant women must take precautions
  • There is no evidence that virus can be transmitted from mother to the fetus
  • There is currently no data suggesting risk of miscarriage due to COVID-19

New Delhi: Pregnancy can be stressful even under normal circumstances but during a pandemic, the anxiety can increase exponentially. In an open webinar on pregnancies conducted by doctors of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, a senior gynaecologist-obstetrician said that they are preparing for the possibility that the number of pregnant women infected with Covid-19 would increase. Since pregnancy comes with significant changes in the body including the immune system, it is important to take extra precautions to avoid catching the infection. There are also concerns on how risky the pregnancy would be and if the mother can transmit the infection to the baby in the womb. However, experts say that there is no need to panic because as of now there only have been cases of COVID-19 positive pregnant women delivering babies who have tested negative. For example, recently a COVID-19 positive woman in Aurangabad Civil Hospital gave birth to a baby who did not get the coronavirus from its mother but is being kept in a separate ward to avoid the risk of catching the virus through aerosols.

Also Read: Breastfeeding And Coronavirus Outbreak: Here Is What Nursing Mothers Should Know

Here is what medical experts have to tell many mothers-to-be who are worried about looking after themselves and their babies during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Talking about the challenges of being pregnant during COVID-19 outbreak, Dr. Shweta Khandelwal, an expert at Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), a not for profit public-private initiative working towards strengthening health in India said that only a small number of studies reporting a limited number of cases are available for reference till now. She said,

Pregnancy itself is a vulnerable stage as we nurture another life within us thus in a state of partial immune suppression which makes pregnant women more vulnerable to viral infections, and the morbidity is higher even with seasonal influenza. So yes, pregnant women must be very careful during this time when COVID-19 is causing this entire catastrophe globally. That said, there is no need to panic. Most experts agree that pregnant women do not appear more likely to contract the infection than the general population.

She further said that most of the women who have been studied under some case reports had COVID-19 during the third trimester of pregnancy. As of now, there is no evidence of any fetal malformations or effects due to maternal infection with COVID-19 at least in India, according to Dr. Khandelwal.

She recommended that expecting mothers should maintain hygiene, avoid unnecessary contact with people or surfaces, meditate, stay calm, eat healthy, be hydrated and rest well.

Also Read: One Death Occurs Every 11 Seconds Among Babies And Pregnant Mothers, Says United Nations

On precautions that pregnant women need to take, Dr. Neerja Bhatla, a professor of gynaecology and obstetrics at the AIIMS said during the webinar,

It is important that pregnant women abide by social-distancing measures and as much as possible communicate with doctors through teleconsultations. Their family members should also take special care to practise social distancing.

In order to guide pregnant women in managing their pregnancy and healthcare workers in taking care of pregnant women, Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH) have issued a set of guidelines. According to the guidelines, it is critical that family support for women is strengthened as far as possible and their mental health and well-being is looked after. It specifies that if a woman meets the criteria for COVID-19 testing, she should be tested and until test results are available, she should be treated as though she has confirmed COVID-19.

Via the guidance document, ICMR and NIRRH further say that pregnant women with heart disease are at the highest risk of becoming COVID-19 positive. Pregnant women are advised to increase their social distancing to reduce the risk of infection and practice hand hygiene, as per the guidelines. It also says that during the term of pregnancy and delivery process, a single person should be permitted to stay with the women. Visitors should be instructed to wear appropriate personal protection gears, including gown, gloves, face mask, and eye protection.

If required, the number of visits to the hospital during pregnancy may be reduced in consultation with the doctor. It further says that if there is a need to visit a health centre, then the women should be driven in a private vehicle or in an ambulance by calling 108 services.

For women who are self-quarantined because someone in their household may have symptoms of COVID-19, doctor’s appointments should be delayed for 14 days.

On the effect of COVID-19 on the pregnancy, ICMR says that there is currently no data suggesting an increased risk of miscarriage or early pregnancy loss and the novel virus is currently not leading to Medical Transmission of Pregnancy.

Also Read: Over 50 Per Cent Of Pregnant Women In India Are Anaemic, Reveals National Family Health Survey

Can A COVID-19 Positive Pregnant Woman Pass On The Infection To Her Baby In The Womb?

Health agencies around the world like the World Health Organisation (WHO), Centre for Disease Control (CDC), USA and ICMR say that as of now it is not known if a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can pass the virus to her fetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery and the virus has not been found in samples of amniotic fluid which is found in the innermost membrane that encloses the embryo.

According to Dr. Rakesh Sahay, Endocrinologist and Diabetologist, and Professor at Osmania Medical College in Hyderabad, limited information suggests that COVID-19 does not cross the placenta and get to the fetus. Thus the baby is safe inside the womb but after delivery, if the mother has been tested positive or is suspected of having COVID-19, she should be temporarily kept in a separate room until no longer suspicious and should touch baby while taking precautions like wearing a mask, cleaning hands properly. This is because aerosol/ respiratory droplets generated from a COVID-19 positive mother can transmit to the infection to the baby. He said,

There are a few cases of pregnant women catching the infection, and in all these cases we have seen that children who were born were not infected. So till now, we have seen that there is no transmission from mother to child inside the womb. But there is a need to precaution once the child is out of the womb to avoid any infections.

Dr. Khandelwal also, seconds Dr. Sahay and said that pregnancy does alter the body’s immune system but with regard to transmission from mom to baby, previous case reports from China suggested that there was no evidence for this and amniotic fluid, cord blood, neonatal throat swabs, placenta swabs, genital fluid and breastmilk samples from COVID-19 infected mothers have so far all tested negative for the virus. However, she further said that more research is warranted to determine the proportion of pregnancies affected and the impact on the neonate.

Also Read: New Study Highlights That Pregnant Women Often Lack Adequate Nutrition

World

19,78,31,904Cases
6,39,24,968Active
12,96,89,916Recovered
42,17,020Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 194 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 19,78,31,904 and 42,17,020 have died; 6,39,24,968 are active cases and 12,96,89,916 have recovered as on August 1, 2021 at 3:55 am.

India

3,16,55,824 41,831Cases
4,10,952 2,032Active
3,08,20,521 39,258Recovered
4,24,351 541Deaths
In India, there are 3,16,55,824 confirmed cases including 4,24,351 deaths. The number of active cases is 4,10,952 and 3,08,20,521 have recovered as on August 1, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

63,03,715 6,959

80,138 733

60,90,786 7,467

1,32,791 225

Kerala

33,90,761 20,624

1,65,011 3,679

32,08,969 16,865

16,781 80

Karnataka

29,05,124 1,987

23,820 318

28,44,742 1,632

36,562 37

Tamil Nadu

25,59,597 1,986

20,716 218

25,04,805 2,178

34,076 26

Andhra Pradesh

19,66,175 2,058

21,180 18

19,31,618 2,053

13,377 23

Uttar Pradesh

17,08,441 31

712 17

16,84,973 48

22,756

West Bengal

15,28,019 769

11,113 58

14,98,770 819

18,136 8

Delhi

14,36,265 58

581 1

14,10,631 56

25,053 1

Chhattisgarh

10,02,008 102

1,863 102

9,86,621 203

13,524 1

Odisha

9,77,268 1,578

14,538 389

9,56,828 1,899

5,902 68

Rajasthan

9,53,667 17

248 6

9,44,465 22

8,954 1

Gujarat

8,24,877 27

252 8

8,14,549 35

10,076

Madhya Pradesh

7,91,828 22

122 1

7,81,193 21

10,513

Haryana

7,69,913 29

712 0

7,59,566 27

9,635 2

Bihar

7,24,835 44

457 1

7,14,735 45

9,643

Telangana

6,44,951 621

9,069 72

6,32,080 691

3,802 2

Punjab

5,99,104 51

534 10

5,82,277 60

16,293 1

Assam

5,66,198 989

13,322 510

5,47,616 1,480

5,260 19

Jharkhand

3,47,173 36

252 8

3,41,793 44

5,128

Uttarakhand

3,42,139 116

632 13

3,34,145 129

7,362

Jammu And Kashmir

3,21,462 118

1,176 5

3,15,908 113

4,378

Himachal Pradesh

2,06,027 153

1,217 80

2,01,289 72

3,521 1

Goa

1,71,146 94

1,058 35

1,66,941 128

3,147 1

Puducherry

1,20,915 100

962 17

1,18,158 115

1,795 2

Manipur

98,499 801

10,540 195

86,403 981

1,556 15

Tripura

78,583 222

3,482 2

74,346 224

755

Meghalaya

65,000 686

5,966 175

57,949 499

1,085 12

Chandigarh

61,953 1

31 5

61,111 5

811 1

Arunachal Pradesh

48,122 266

3,954 188

43,939 451

229 3

Mizoram

38,925 861

12,388 213

26,387 643

150 5

Nagaland

27,872 159

1,329 55

25,977 99

566 5

Sikkim

26,548 237

3,400 98

22,804 137

344 2

Ladakh

20,338 10

56 6

20,075 4

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,650 6

29 1

10,617 7

4

Lakshadweep

10,189 11

84 7

10,055 4

50

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,537 2

8 0

7,400 2

129

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