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Pregnant women and the coronavirus

18 March 2020

Are pregnant women at risk? Yes but no more than non-pregnant women

Following the new measures outlined by the Prime Minister on 16 March, particularly those suggesting that pregnant women reduce social contact, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health are working to reassure pregnant women and those who care for them.

The three Royal Colleges, who between them care for and support women and their babies throughout pregnancy, birth and childhood, reiterate that there is currently no new evidence to suggest that pregnant women are at greater risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) than other healthy individuals, or that they can pass the infection to their baby while pregnant. The announcement of 17 March is purely a precautionary measure, to reduce the theoretical risk to the baby’s growth and a risk of preterm birth should the mother become unwell.

Professional bodies’ response to government coronavirus advice for pregnant women to reduce social contact>

Data from China (December 2019 to February 2020) suggest that the clinical characteristics of COVID-19 pneumonia in pregnant women are similar to those reported for non-pregnant adult patients who develop COVID-19 pneumonia.

Is the Corona Virus transmissible from mother to newborn? Most probably No.  
A recent study in Wuhan aimed to evaluate the clinical characteristics of COVID-19 in pregnancy and the intrauterine vertical transmission potential of COVID-19 infection. The sample was very small (9 women infected in their third trimester, in December 2019, and admitted to the Wuhan university hospital with pneumonia). There was no evidence for intrauterine infection caused by vertical transmission from women to babies. Amniotic fluid, cord blood, neonatal throat swab, and breastmilk samples from six mothers and newborns were tested for SARS-CoV-2, and all samples tested negative for the virus.

  • In this retrospective study, the authors aimed to evaluate the clinical characteristics of COVID-19 in pregnancy and the intrauterine vertical transmission potential of COVID-19 infection. They found that clinical characteristics were similar for pregnant and nonpregnant women. Additionally, in this small group of cases, there was no evidence for intrauterine infection.
  • This was a small study, but it provides at least some information on COVID-19 in pregnancy that will be helpful for clinicians and patients.

Morgan Soffler, MD

Clinical Characteristics and Vertical Transmission Potential of COVID-19 in Pregnant Women
The Lancet. Published in Respiratory Medicine Journal Scan / Research · March 17, 2020