How does the coronavirus affect pregnant women?

Posted at 8:45 AM, Mar 12, 2020

While the CDC says there is still much to learn about the novel coronavirus and how it affects pregnant women, some doctors say those who are pregnant should take precautions as the disease continues to spread.

Because it's still so new, there haven't been any published reports on how the coronavirus affects pregnant women and children.

The CDC says it's not clear if children are more susceptible to COVID-19, but they say most of the confirmed cases in China are adults.

Because of changes in their immune system, pregnant women are at higher risk when it comes to coronavirus.

"This is a very bad germ," said Dr. Kurt Wharton, the medical director at the Family Birth Center at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Wharton says pregnant women are at a higher risk when it comes to COVID-19 because the virus can make it harder to breathe, especially when the mom-to-be is further along in the pregnancy.

"If her lungs become sick, it's extremely difficult for her to recover. It's extremely difficult for us, even here at the hospital, to help her get better," he said.

Wharton is telling his pregnant patients to wash their hands, work from home if they can, and to avoid travel and large crowds.

"Am I going to avoid elevators? Every chance I get," he said.

Not many studies have been done on coronavirus and pregnant women, but health experts believe that a child in the womb does not contract the virus from its mother. They also don't believe the virus can cause birth defects.

"Once the baby is born, that baby is then at risk if the mother is sick," Wharton said.

But what about kids?

"Much less children are being reported at all, all around the world." said Dr. Daniel Schnaar is a pediatrician with Beaumont Hospital.

Many of the children who were diagnosed experienced mild illness.

Schnaar suggests that parents teach their kids about washing their hands properly. He says it is still safe to send them to school unless told otherwise by officials.

But parents may want to rethink extracurricular activities, especially if those activities are indoors.

"I think parents are going to be choosing different things to do with their children, perhaps play outside as the weather warms up, rather than sitting in a movie theater," Schnaar said.

DSchnaar also says if that anyone who thinks they have the coronavirus should call their doctor first before showing up at the medical office or hospital to avoid getting others sick.

Most doctors won't have coronavirus rests on-hand, so office staff can give better advice on where to go for testing.

This story was originally published by Syma Chowdhry on WXYZ in Detroit.