CAPE TOWN- Scientists and global experts are still in the early stages of fully understanding the novel Coronavirus. Many have raised concerns about pregnant women and if they could be at a higher risk of severe illness than the general population if they contract Covid-19.
Are pregnant women at a higher risk?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) current data is limited in understanding the impacts of the virus on pregnant women, however it is advised that precautions are taken to protect themselves from infection.
The WHO says that, “due to changes in their bodies and immune systems, we know that pregnant women can be badly affected by some respiratory infections. It is therefore important that they report possible symptoms (including fever, cough or difficulty breathing) to their healthcare provider”.
Can the virus be passed from the mother to her newborn?
It remains unclear if the mother can pass the virus to her foetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery. The WHO says that to date, the virus has not been found in samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk.
A study with a small sample group of 33 Covid-19 pregnant women in China found that three of them gave birth to babies with the virus.
All three of the babies recovered after receiving treatment for their symptoms.
How will delivery be handled differently?
Hospitals have been encouraged by the WHO to minimize person-to-person transmission for patients with or without the virus.
Healthcare workers should be taking the appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of infection to themselves and to the mothers in delivery.
Some hospitals screening medical staff on arrival with temperature checks and ensure the use of protective clothing such as gloves, gown and medical masks.
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