Pregnancy for many parents is an exciting yet nerve-wrecking time. Tracking the expected newborn’s development, watching the belly growth, indulging in cravings, choosing names, and outfitting the nursery with the latest designs and parent hack products out in the market are just some of the things that can build anxiety while enjoying the upcoming gift of new life. With the COVID-19 season, many expecting families are concerned about how the pandemic could affect the health of the carrying mother and the possible risks to their newborns. Researchers started analyzing the risk by studying the outcomes from closely related SARS CoV-1 and MERS viruses.
Researchers collected the data from studies evaluating pregnant women with SARS CoV-1 and MERS and the data concluded mothers who contract SARS earlier in the term of their pregnancy seem to observe having higher death rate in their newborns, however vertical transmission was not observed in surviving newborns in either term range . Mothers who contract SARS later in the term of their pregnancy seem to observe respiratory complications in their newborns without vertical transmission of the virus . As observed by mothers with SARS, mothers who contract MERS during their pregnancy also observed respiratory complications in their newborns and preterm birth .
With the COVID-19 pandemic only in the 4th month of its first season, limited studies have been conducted to determine the risk in women who have ran the entire term of their pregnancy.
One study evaluated pregnancy in 2 women with SARS CoV-2 (virus inflicting COVID-19) during the third trimester of pregnancy. Samples were obtained from the mother’s nose after being admitted. Samples from the mother’s blood, cord blood, placenta, amniotic fluid, vaginal cavity, breast milk, and the newborns nose were obtained after delivery for analysis .
The 34-year-old patient have a more severe condition with a higher viral load. This could mean that the amount of the virus in the mother’s system could the determine the severity of her risk . Both patients delivered by C-section and were prevented from direct contact with the newborn although all samples obtained for analysis did not show traces of the virus, providing evidence that the virus was not transmitted vertically from mother to child in the uterus . The 34-year-old patient was observed to have a reoccurring positive test after a series of two negative tests, leading public health officials to advise discouraging breastfeeding and person to person contact after birth for the latency period of the virus . Although both newborns experiences respiratory complications and symptoms of the virus, a negative result on the samples obtained detecting no transmission of the virus .
Nine pregnant patients inflicted with COVID-19 were studied with 10 infants delivered 1 patient delivered a set of twins). The study reported no observed vertical transmission as well . Common events observed in newborns to mothers who contract the COVID-19 SARS CoV-2 virus include: low oxygen in newborns, inflammation or thickening of the lung tissue, preterm deliveries, and deliveries by C-section .
Pregnancy outcomes with SARS CoV-2 appear to be less severe than SARS CoV-1 and MERS, and to date no events have been observed of vertical transmission associated with the COVID-19 inflicting SARS CoV-2 virus.
“Vertical transmission refers to the passage of a pathogen from mother to baby during the period before and after birth. Specifically, it includes transmission via germ cells or placental blood during pregnancy, via the birth canal during labor and delivery, and during postpartum breastfeeding… Despite a lack of evidence to support the vertical transmission of 2019-nCoV, isolation is still required” (Zhu et al, 2020).
We live in a devastating time where mothers are missing the initial bonds with their babies through breastfeeding and skin to skin contact. Mentally health preparation for mothers that are pregnant with COVID-19 will be instrumental for preventing postpartum depression.
Pregnancy Resources During COVID-19
1. Rasmussen, S. A., Smulian J. C., Lednicky, J. A., Wen, T. S., Jamieson, D. J. (2020). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and pregnancy: what obstetricians need to know. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2020.02.017
2. Zhu, H., Wang, L., Fang, C., Peng, S., Zhang, L., Chang, G., Xia, S., & Zhou, W. (2020). Clinical analysis of 10 neonates born to mothers with 2019-nCoV pneumonia. Translational pediatrics, 9(1), 51–60. https://doi.org/10.21037/tp.2020.02.06
3. Schwartz, D. A. (2020). An Analysis of 38 Pregnant Women with COVID-19, Their Newborn Infants, and Maternal-Fetal Transmission of SARS-CoV-2: Maternal Coronavirus Infections and Pregnancy Outcomes. Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine In-Press. https://doi.org/10.5858/arpa.2020-0901-SA
4.Fan, C., Lei, D., Fang, C., Li, C., Wang, M., Liu, Y., Bao, Y., Sun, Y., Huang, J., Guo, Y., Yu, Y., Wang, S. (2020) Perinatal Transmission of COVID-19 Associated SARS-CoV-2: Should We Worry?, Clinical Infectious Diseases, , ciaa226, https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa226
Gdakaska. Pregnant mother and child. (Photo) https://pixabay.com/vectors/pregnancy-pregnant-mother-child-2757032/