Pregnant families do their best to plan for labor, but a global disease pandemic isn’t something any parent can anticipate.
Dr. Ashley Roman, director of the division of maternal fetal medicine at NYU Langone, sympathizes with her patients.
“It’s a stressful time for our pregnant patients because there’s so much that’s unknown,” Roman tells The Post, “and new information is out every day.”
So when it comes to any parent’s No. 1 priority, they want to know: Can I give my child the coronavirus? According to Chinese physicians, probably not.
Doctors at Wuhan’s Union Hospital have revealed further evidence that coronavirus is not transmittable from parent to child while in the womb, according to a new case study published in the journal “Frontiers in Pediatrics.”
The report is the second from China to find that pregnant patients who tested positive for the infection did not pass it on to their babies. From both studies, a total of 12 women with COVID-19 gave birth to a baby who was confirmed to be virus-free.
However, two women not involved in the study, one in China and the other in the UK, recently gave birth to newborns with the virus despite having tested for COVID-19 prior to labor.
Physicians at Wuhan Union involved in the study noted that the volunteers had all undergone a casarean section, and they believe that the method of birth may be an important risk factor. Others, including Dr. Roman, have added that it’s entirely possible the babies became ill conventionally — through contact with their infected mother just after birth.
“Cases of newborn COVID-19 infection have been reported, but we think the babies contracted the virus at delivery or after birth, as opposed to during pregnancy,” says Dr. Roman. “Given that this is a new virus, we don’t know if the risk of transmission is different with vaginal delivery versus cesarean delivery. COVID-19 infection in the mother by itself is currently not an indication for C-section.”
Roman adds it’s most critical for parents-to-be to take care of themselves — which, in turn, takes care of the baby.
“The biggest worry [I have] for pregnant women who get COVID-19 is that they may be at higher risk of developing severe disease themselves,” including pneumonia and other potentially deadly respiratory illness, she says. That’s because “changes in the immune system” during pregnancy are thought to make mothers more susceptible to illness.
“Put simply, they may [become] sicker than people of the same age who are not pregnant,” she adds.
Roman says that pregnant parents, like anyone, should heed public-health experts’ advice for prevention, including washing hands frequently or using hand sanitizer; refraining from touching your face; avoiding contact with infected individuals; practicing social distancing; and keeping a clean home.
She also reminds nervous parents that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, which has a section dedicated to people who are pregnant and nursing amid the coronavirus outbreak, is the “best source for up-to-date information.”