COVID-19: Unborn Child Unlikely to Be Affected If Mum Contracts Coronavirus, Says Expert
"The virus was not present in amniotic fluid, the babies’ throats, or in breast milk."
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grapple many nations around the world, fears of how the disease could impact individuals and their loved ones continue to plague them. Studies have shown that individuals with compromised immune systems such as the elderly and those with chronic conditions are more susceptible. But what about pregnant mothers who are in general, more susceptible to contracting viral respiratory infections such as the flu? One of the pressing concerns remain: what are the COVID-19 effects on an unborn baby if the mother were to contract it?
While studies have been ongoing to ascertain this, experts have now derived that COVID-19 is unlikely to cause complications in an unborn child if a pregnant mum were to contract it.
COVID-19 Effects on Unborn Baby
At least for pregnant mums who had been infected by COVID-19 in their third trimesters, results have suggested “no evidence of infection within the uterus, and hence no transmission of infection from mother to the baby”, said Associate Professor Tan Hak Koon who takes charge of the obstetrics and gynaecology division at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
This is based on the study of nine pregnant British women who were infected during their third trimester.
Six of the babies were tested to be COVID-19 free after birth. The results also showed “no foetal or neonatal deaths” from the infection of the pregnant mums during the third trimester.
Another study according to Harvard Medical School also supported the evidence of COVID-19 not affecting unborn babies: “The virus was not present in amniotic fluid, the babies’ throats, or in breast milk.”
However, when it comes to infection during a pregnant mum’s first or second trimester, Professor Tan warned that there are no concrete scientific findings on the effect of COVID-19 on a foetus.
More data is required before definitive conclusions can be made on the risk of miscarriage or congenital malformations with COVID-19 infection in the first and the second trimesters,” Professor Tan said.
In comparison to their non-pregnant counterparts, pregnant mothers “do not have a worse outcome” in the case of a COVID-19 infection, based on current data.
Being pregnant does not increase the risk of infection
Associate Professor Su Lin Lin, division head of the maternal fetal medicine at the National University Hospital agrees with that.
While pregnant mums, in general, are more susceptible to contracting viral respiratory infections such as the flu, she said that it does not result in lower immunity towards COVID-19.
Professor Su said that pregnant women are “not at any greater risk” if infected with COVID-19 or that it could cause “harm to an unborn baby”.
But in light of all, what is heartening to know is that “infants do not appear to get the severe disease” mentioned Roger Shapiro, an associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Medical School. “But there’s been really, really little data so far.”
As long as pregnant mothers adhere to the general safety precautions such as practising safe distancing, good personal hygiene and avoiding crowds, she will not have to worry needlessly.