As the novel Coronavirus continues community spread across Middle Tennessee and beyond, we want to address concerns related to pregnant healthcare workers.
There is limited data currently available regarding susceptibility of COVID-19 and the severity of infection in pregnant women.
As with other viruses, such as those in the coronavirus family or influenza, some women may become more susceptible to infection and at higher risk of developing severe illness. Based on available studies, there continues to be no evidence that pregnant women have different outcomes than their non-pregnant peers.
But because this is a novel strain, there is not enough data yet available to predict whether pregnant women may contract the virus at a higher rate than the general public, nor what the morbidity and mortality rates may look like. As a precautionary measure, pregnant women have been included in the high-risk groups (higher risk for developing severe illness) for COVID-19.
Based on limited data currently available, we do not believe that COVID-19 can be passed from mother to fetus while in utero. There have been cases of newborns being diagnosed with COVID-19 and we believe those occurred following delivery, suggesting the mother can pass the virus through close contact after delivery. Based on limited scientific reports, there has been no evidence of COVID-19 in amniotic fluid or breast milk.
At this time, we do not see an increased risk of birth defects. There has been reported increase in preterm delivery, however, that does not appear to be directly related to the virus. The risk of miscarriage is not known to be directly affected by COVID-19.
It is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses.
- In low-risk scenarios, cough etiquette, hand hygiene, following recommended algorithms for rapid triaging of patients, and use of PPE are sufficient to protect from exposure to COVID-19.
- For patients who are infected or are under investigation for infection, and are undergoing aerosol-generating procedures, providers should wear N-95 mask, eye protection, gloves, and gown.
- Pregnant health care workers may not be ideal first responders if equally trained clinical staff are available and time is sufficient to find replacement.
- Pregnant health care workers should limit exposure to patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, as they would with other infectious cases.
Finally, pregnant women should do the same things as the general public to avoid infection.
- Clean your hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cover your cough (using your elbow is a good technique).
- Avoid people who are sick.