New Delhi: While pregnant women don’t appear more likely to
contract coronavirus infection than others, transmission of the virus disease
from mother to baby during pregnancy is probable, according to an Indian Council
of Medical Research (ICMR) guideline.
“…emerging evidence now suggests that vertical transmission
is probable, although the proportion of pregnancies affected and the
significance to the neonate has yet to be determined,” the ‘Guidance for Management
of Pregnant women in Covid-19 pandemic’ read.
There are no recorded cases of breast milk being tested positive
for Covid-19 and so infected mothers can breastfeed. The guideline, though, recommends
separating mother from the baby, using a pump and thoroughly sterilizing all
the equipment involved to reduce the risk of transmission.
The guideline stated that though pregnant women are not at
higher risk to contract the infection than ordinary population, pregnancy
alters the body’s immune system and response to viral infections in general,
which can occasionally be related to more severe symptoms.
“Pregnant women should be advised to increase their social
distancing to reduce the risk of infection and practice hand hygiene,” as per
the ICMR report.
The ICMR has directed all healthcare providers to maintain a
registry for all women admitted to with confirmed Covid-19 infection in
pregnancy. Maternal and neonatal records including outcome should be completed
in detail and preserved for analysis in future.
It is unknown whether new-borns with Covid-19 are at increased risk for severe complications. Transmission after birth via contact with infectious respiratory secretions is a concern. Health care providers should consider temporarily separating the mother who have confirmed Covid-19 from her baby until the mother’s transmission-based precautions are discontinued.