Pregnant women do not appear to be higher risk for corona

Pregnant women apparently have few reasons to worry about health problems due to the coronavirus, experts have told the NOS.

Prof Kitty Bloemenkamp, chair of the birth centre at the Utrecht teaching hospital and of a national research team, said that since March only 211 women have tested positive with the coronavirus in the Netherlands.

‘Each year around 185,000 children are born, so from 1st March around 46,000 women have given birth,’ she told the broadcaster. ‘The total of 211 women who had complaints and tested positive doesn’t seem too bad to me, so the chance that pregnant women got the virus has been small.’

She added that their symptoms matched those of the general population, with mostly mild complaints like fever and coughing but 3% or 4% needing intensive care in hospital. The chance of death also seems very small.

‘Up until now, just one woman in the Netherlands giving birth has died with Covid-19,’ she reportedly said. ‘This is a very different picture than for MERS, which is caused by another coronavirus. There, we see a death rate of around 25%.’

However, she added that if a pregnant woman becomes very sick, doctors believe it might be beneficial to induce birth earlier to give a better chance of recovery. ‘Especially in the last 12 weeks, pregnant women have a greater chance of serious complications from a lung infection, because the immune system changes during pregnancy and the diaphragm – which is important for breathing – is pushed upwards later in pregnancy,’ she said.

The team has also observed that the chance that a foetus contracts the virus in utero seems extremely small. Willem de Vries, vice president of the paediatric association of the Netherlands told the broadcaster that so far no Dutch babies have had to be treated in neonatal intensive care wards for the coronavirus.

It is, however, unclear if it is riskier to give birth during a coronavirus epidemic than at any other time.

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