COVID-19 and Your Baby
There’s another curve associated with the Coronavirus besides the one we want to flatten (new cases per time). That curve is something traditionally called the “learning curve.” As a former OBGYN doctor, I watch the news and consult the medical studies about what is being learned about this novel virus. Since it never existed for our species in the past, everything we learn about it is new knowledge. One particular concern is pregnancy, because there are two people involved!
Whenever we tackle something we know nothing about, getting a thorough grasp requires that proverbial learning curve. For COVID-19, we are on it, and since it is new to us it is very steep indeed.
What’s on the learning curve for COVID-19?
There are many questions for which we are eagerly seeking answers:
- Why does it target certain segments of the population (e.g., elderly, those with pre-existing conditions, minority groups, etc.)?
- Once someone gets it, are they immune for life?
- Will it mutate to become even more dangerous?
- Will it burn out and never return?
- What drugs may be effective (e.g., hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin)?
- Can it jump species (humans infect animals, animals infect humans)? We know it originated from a mutated bat coronavirus, and there is indication animals can get it, but does it stop there? So far, there seems to be no need to social distance ourselves from our pets.
- What are all of its symptoms (e.g., pink eye, loss of taste/smell, aches, fever, dry cough, etc.)?
- Why do some people get complications and others merely become asymptomatic carriers?
- What about pregnancy? [READ ON]
What about pregnancy? What’s on the learning curve for expectant mothers and newborns?
So far, what we’re learning about COVID-19 associated with pregnancy seems reassuring:
- So far, it doesn’t seem to cross over to the unborn baby. There have been isolated reports of newborns being positive, but no one knows whether such infections were acquired before birth (from the mother—called “vertical transmission”), during birth (mixing of fluids), or even soon after birth due to bonding contact. Also, could hospital personnel have infected the newborn?
- So far, it is unknown whether it can be contracted through breastmilk, because such a determination is impossible since breastfeeding involves both milk ingestion AND close bodily contact.
- So far, pregnancy is NOT one of the pre-existing conditions that makes a woman more susceptible to infection or vulnerable to complications of COVID-19. This is a bit mysterious, since pregnancy is considered to be a state of immunosuppression. Nevertheless, pregnant women don’t get infected any more frequently than anyone else.
Yes…so far. This is the cruelty of the learning curve. We may learn different as the infection peaks globally. However, the fact that COVID-19 is everywhere now—and so are pregnant women with no associated additional “spike” for them—is comforting when one’s attention, hopes, and dreams are centered on her unborn baby.
In the meantime, a pregnant woman should follow the precautions recommended for anyone out and about in this new, strange world. But even if she should become COVID-19-positive, she can at least rely on that part of the learning curve that indicates her unborn child is safe. For pregnant women, the “answer”curve is going in the right direction.
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This Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.