**Update March 17, 2020: Pregnant women should be considered an at-risk population for COVID-19. The most recent research that indicated the virus is NOT transmitted from mothers to their babies.**
The conversation about the coronavirus has been nonstop. And it can be scary hearing all the reports in the news, especially when there are conflicting stories on what’s happening with the virus outbreak. Today we go over what the coronavirus is, how it affects pregnancy, and what you can do to protect yourself.
What is the Coronavirus?
The coronavirus disease is a new respiratory disease that has led to an outbreak first detected in China. The virus has been named SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes is known as the “coronavirus disease 2019” which has been abbreviated and referred to as “COVID-19”.
Typically, coronaviruses do not affect humans and are common viruses for animals. While the initial outbreak was linked to animal-to-person contact, it’s spread has been indicated through person-to-person contact. As we know it, the transmission is through close contact with an infected individual’s respiratory droplets. The COVID-19 symptoms that are confirmed include:
- Shortness of breath
Additionally, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as few as 2 days and as long as 14 days. At this moment it has spread to 37 international locations, including the United States. It’s important to note that “this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States” according to the CDC. The only cases of COVID-19 that have been detected in the U.S. are from those who’ve traveled, especially from China where the virus was first detected.
Are pregnant women at risk?
Since the risk of getting COVID-19 is low at this time in the United States, U.S. women who are pregnant are not at a high risk of contracting the virus. Such concerns about amniotic fluid and breast milk are currently unfounded and not known transmitters of this virus.
It’s important to keep in mind that we are in flu and respiratory disease season so there are many people in the United States who have flu-like symptoms but do not have the coronavirus. Even more so, anyone can contract flu-like symptoms from the general population without it being the coronavirus, so it’s very important to continue preventative measures while pregnant. If you start to feel flu-like symptoms during your pregnancy, it’s best to see a doctor for help and diminish your chances of getting sick later on.
As for the question of if the coronavirus affects your baby: officials do not have enough evidence to support adverse effects. Any kind of flu-like disease or virus can affect an infant just as it can affect pregnant women. For specific questions on the coronavirus and infants, check the CDC for updates or give your doctor a call! At Mt. Auburn, we understand your concerns and want to be able to help you as best as we can. Don’t be afraid to reach out!
What are the steps that I can take to prevent contracting the coronavirus?
- Treat the current situation like a normal flu season, which is still prevalent at this time. Wash your hands and avoid people who are sick.
- Get the flu shot if you haven’t already! If you’re pregnant, ask your doctor before getting the vaccine. Kudos to you should you have already gotten the shot.
- If you’re feeling sick, stay at home and visit your doctor for treatment!
- Reconsider your plans on travel, especially internationally. You may need to postpone vacation plans, especially if you’re pregnant. While contracting the coronavirus is still low for most countries, what you need to consider is also how airlines and certain locations may be taking extra precautionary measures! This could delay or extend your time away from home. Investigate what hold-ups or changes could happen for your vacation plans, and talk to your doctor about what extra precautions you should make if you are considering travel.
- Avoid the stigma and exaggerated reports from media and others. According to the CDC: “Fear and anxiety can lead to social stigma towards Chinese or other Asian Americans. Stigma hurts everyone by creating more fear or anger towards ordinary people instead of the disease that is causing the problem.” Unfortunately, there are inaccurate reports and conversations out there that are scaring people unnecessarily. Stick to official websites, like the CDC for announcements, and don’t solely rely on news outlets or social media to influence your opinions. Get the facts from the source!
We don’t want to diminish the seriousness of this outbreak, but we also don’t want to see people panicking over reports that have little to no research to back them up. Talk to your doctors if and when you have concerns or questions, especially about the coronavirus. Keep a level head, stay informed with the facts, and take preventative measures when necessary so you remain healthy!
For up-to-date information about the coronavirus, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has continually updated their website.