Mar 5, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and pregnant women

Dr. Neera Bhatia Obgyn - Coronavirus (COVID-19) and pregnant women

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Information about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

CDC is responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and which has now been detected in almost 70 locations internationally, including in the United States. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoVSARS-CoV, and now with this new virus (named SARS-CoV-2).

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and Pregnancy

There are many unknowns about the new coronavirus, including whether pregnant women who catch the virus can pass it to their unborn child. We do know from other respiratory illnesses, like the flu and another coronavirus called Severe Acute Respiratory (also called SARS), that pregnant women can get sicker and require hospitalization. Pregnant women should continue to follow appropriate precautions to protect themselves from exposure to the virus, and seek medical care early, if experiencing symptoms, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

Is it safe for a mother to breastfeed if she is infected with Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza (flu) and other respiratory pathogens spread. In limited studies on women with COVID-19 and another coronavirus infection, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), the virus has not been detected in breast milk; however we do not know whether mothers with COVID-19 can transmit the virus via breast milk.

For symptomatic mothers well enough to breastfeed, she should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus including wearing a mask when near a child (including during feeding), washing hands before and after contact with the child (including feeding), and cleaning/disinfecting contaminated surfaces – as should be done in all cases where anyone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 interacts with others, including children.

If a mother is too sick to feed her infant at the breast, if possible, expressed breast milk should be fed to the infant by a healthy caregiver.

Prevention and protection for COVID-19

It is important that you are aware of the disease and the efforts necessary to prevent its spread.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners also are effective.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue away.
  • Put used tissues in the trash immediately.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick with a fever and respiratory symptoms, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Maintain your immune system by getting plenty of rest, sleep and a nutritious balanced diet.

If you or your family members recently returned from destinations with apparent community spread — including Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand — and are experiencing symptoms of fever and congestion, see your health care provider. Prior to your arrival, it’s important to notify your physician or local emergency department of your recent travel history.

The latest updates are available on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 website.

Before Your Appointment

If you have cough, congestion, fever, runny nose, or other symptoms suggestive of an illness, we kindly ask you first contact our office before visiting. We can assist you via the telephone and coordinate your next step, whether it be with your PCP or another medical professional. Thank you for your consideration in this matter as we work to keep our staff and patients healthy.

Dr. Neera Bhatia and staff are committed to women’s health and are monitoring the rapidly changing events related to coronavirus (COVID-19). For more information about pregnancy or breastfeeding, contact Dr. Neera Bhatia, your San Antonio OB/GYN today at (210) 222-2694!

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