Are pregnant women more vulnerable to Coronavirus?

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By KNO on 18/05/2020.

Are pregnant women more vulnerable to Coronavirus?

COVID-19 positive mother must wear protective gears while breastfeeding baby, says experts

Srinagar, May 18: Pregnant ladies are little more susceptible to get infected by Covid-19 as compared to the normal population as pregnancy suppresses the immune system but its effect remains very mild and not so severe that it can cause death, health experts said Monday.

“Significantly, during pregnancy, the upper respiratory tract tends to be swollen due to high levels of estrogen, progesterone and restricted lung expansion, which makes such women susceptible to respiratory pathogens,” a health expert said told news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO)

He said that a pregnant woman with COVID-19 should be carefully monitored throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period since they had receive anti-viral drug therapy and radiation exposure from CT examinations.

Taking exclusively with KNO, Dr Shabir Sidiqi, Medical superintendent maternity hospital, Lal Ded Srinagar, said that pregnant women are prone to covid-19 as pregnancy weakens immune system but they can reduce their risk by reducing social contacts.

“Not only to covid-19, pregnant ladies are in general vulnerable to respiratory infections,” he said adding that there is no evidence for vertical transmission of the virus but an increased prevalence of preterm deliveries has been noticed.

“There is no evidence that virus can transmit to unborn baby, however Covid-19 may alter immune responses at the maternal-fetal interface and affect the well being of mothers and infants,” he said.

Another expert ,Dr Tabasum, who is Deputy Medical superintendent at JLNM hospital talking to KNO said that pregnant women are bit more vulnerable to covid-19 like other respiratory infections than general population.

“However, if pregnant ladies will follow the universal guidelines issued by WHO and other organizations in letter and spirit then chances of getting COVID positive are very less,” she said.

There is no evidence that that virus can transmit to baby, she said. “Mother breastfeeding is must. But a mother should use protective gears while breastfeeding and baby must be kept away from infected mother soon after breastfeeding,” she said.

Dr Tabasum said that pregnant ladies from urban areas are following the guidelines like maintaining social distances and wearing face masks besides other guidelines than from rural areas due to which the most covid-19 cases among pregnant ladies have been found in women belonging to rural areas.

Pregnant ladies must wash hands frequently, practice social distance, avoid contact with others as much as possible, get flu vaccination on time, use tissue while coughing or sneezing, don’t ignore any respiratory symptoms, consider virtual consultations instead of prenatal visits to doctor, do things that make you happy, exercise and don’t stress too much, she said, adding that these actions can prevent pregnant women from getting the disease like COVID-19

Dr Naveed Nazir Shah, Head of Department of Pulmonology section at Chest Disease hospital Srinagar said that yes pregnant ladies have weak immune system but that doesn’t mean, covid-19 can effect only them but it can effect anyone.

Asked about the rising positive cases of pregnant ladies, he said that a massive  sample collection drive of pregnant ladies is going on due to which some positive cases have come to the fore.

“It all depends upon exposure and whosoever is more exposed is more vulnerable, he said adding that ages, pregnancy and other things have minor effects,” he said.

Recently, the positive cases of pregnant ladies have come from Anantanag but they all have common contact source of Maternity and child hospital Anantanag, he said.

Pertinently, around two dozen women have been tested positive for covid-19 so far in Kashmir division including 12 from who were tested positive in a single day. Officials said that among 12 pregnant ladies from Anantnag, only two were from red zones and most of them had no travel history.

According to the protocol, all pregnant women need to be tested necessarily in thirty-fourth week of pregnancy besides treating all pregnant women as covid-19 probable.