The second wave of COVID-19 is adding caseloads as we see. The infectious virus is now launching scathing attacks on the ones who were previously considered to be at a lesser risk. Days old newborns are testing positive as well.
With the virus being extremely risky for pregnant women, many are now wondering if fetal transmission of the virus could be possible.
Getting sick when you are expecting can be worrisome, and make you worry for the little one nesting inside you. In a situation like this fueled by isolated experiences and scary health outcomes, is it possible that a newborn contracts the virus via the mother?
What are the chances of a pregnant woman transmitting COVID-19 to the fetus? We decode the truth and list out precautions to follow…
Are pregnant women at a higher risk of getting COVID-19?
Pregnancy could be an immunity-compromising condition. It could also be the time when the body is actively working to provide nourishment for two, hence, in relative terms, the risk of catching any disease, including COVID-19 could be on the higher side.
That being said, it’s still a relatively new virus that is being studied and repercussions, symptoms being looked into. Until some months ago, it was observed that though pregnant women face the same risk as adults, they were less likely to get symptomatic infections or suffer from severe complications. With newer changes and mutations found in circulation, the risks have evolved. Not only are pregnant women increasingly turning symptomatic, but face grave risks of hospitalization and severe outcomes as well.
What does that mean for viral transmission?
Pregnant women are just as much at risk for viral transmission like healthy adults. However, there is not enough clinical evidence to prove that newborns who test positive or contract the infection in the first days do so via their mothers.
Contracting coronavirus during pregnancy may risk maternal health, but not so much for newborns. According to studies and researchers, there has only been a low percentile risk for newborns born to COVID positive mothers.
However, getting COVID-19 when you are pregnant, especially in the last trimester has been found to increase the chances of preterm births. Respiratory distress could also be observed in a few cases.
Can pregnant women pass on protective antibodies?
There’s now a strong case for vaccination to be thrown open for pregnant women. As per new studies and increasing evidence, pregnant women who get vaccinated against COVID-19 could pass on protective antibodies to their babies at birth, which could safeguard them from infection risk till the time they are breastfed.
Doctors also suggest that the antibodies could be passed via the placenta, or through breastmilk. How long does COVID immunity last, or what kind of protection could it serve is yet to be studied.
The increasing severity risk COVID-19 poses to pregnancy and maternal health and the fear of new mutants is now a reason many doctors are encouraging pregnant women to get the vaccine, especially at the frontlines to get jabbed when they can.