COVID-19 and pregnancy

The COVID-19 pandemic has become a difficult challenge for the whole world, causing people significant concern for their health, even those, who carefully adher to all quarantine measures and seem to have no comorbidities. Of particular concern is the risk of coronavirus infection in pregnant women, who are now concerned not only about their own health but also about the unborn baby.

The Institute of Cell Therapy has collected the most common questions from pregnant women about COVID-19 and pregnancy and the opinions of international experts on this issue.

Question: Do pregnant women have a higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection? Answer: No, according to virologists, pregnant women are at the same risk of catching SARS-CoV-2 as other adults. However, during pregnancy a woman’s body undergoes a number of physiological changes that increase the likelihood of infection in general. Thus, pregnancy is considered a physiological (natural) immunodeficiency condition. This is due to the fact that the fetus is a kind of “graft” for a woman’s body, a carrier of foreign proteins, and reduced immune function during pregnancy ensures its favorable course, prevents miscarriages and immunological conflicts between the mother and fetus.

Question: Is there a risk that COVID-19 in pregnant women will be more severe than in the general population?

Answer: There are currently no data on the higher probability of severe COVID-19 in pregnant women, but it is known that pregnant women are at higher risk of severe influenza and other respiratory infections, including those caused by other coronaviruses.

Question: Is it possible to transmit SARS-CoV-2 virus from mother to child?

Answer: Scientists believe that the possibility of transmitting the SARS-CoV-2 virus from mother to child is unlikely. Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 was not detected in the amniotic family or breast milk. However, after birth, the baby can be infected with the coronavirus from a sick mother.

Question: Is it possible to breastfeed if a woman is infected with COVID-19?

Answer: As we wrote above, SARS-CoV-2 does not pass into breast milk, although this fact has not yet been established with absolute certainty due to the small number of studies. At the same time, breast milk is a source of immunoglobulins for the newborn, which are important for the immune protection of the baby.

Question: How to breastfeed if a woman is infected with COVID-19?

Answer: You should consult a specialist and consider ways of both direct and indirect breastfeeding. When breastfeeding directly, it is recommended that the pregnant woman wears a mask and washes her hands before each feeding. When choosing a method of indirect feeding, the following recommendations should be followed: regularly milk expression to maintain lactation, using a breast milk pump, washing hands thoroughly before touching any part of the pump or baby bottle, considering the involving of another healthy person to bottle feed the baby. .

Question: Is SARS-CoV-2 detected in the placenta, umbilical cord blood, umbilical cord?

Answer: SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory virus, and there is currently no data on its entry into perinatal tissues (placenta, umbilical cord blood, umbilical cord). However, international guidelines on the procurement of donors of umbilical cord blood and other stem cell sources implicate gathering information from the donors whether they were infected with COVID-19 or were in contact with COVID-19 patients.

Question: What measures should umbilical cord blood banks take during the COVID-19 epidemic?

Answer: According to the international guidelines,  cord blood banks should properly treat the containers of biomaterial arriving at the laboratory from maternity hospitals with antiseptics, intensify cleaning and disinfection of premises, organize shift work, provide remote counseling and contract signing. In Ukraine, the Institute of Cell Therapy has implemented all recommended anti-epidemic measures since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Source: and data from the Cryobank Association