In a small study, almost one-sixth of pregnant women in New York had coronavirus.
The researchers scoured 215 future mothers for COVID-19 when they were admitted to hospital to give birth.
A total of 33 patients – 15% – tested positive. But almost all of them had no symptoms indicative of the coronavirus, such as a persistent cough or fever.
Scientists have yet to establish the true risk of COVID-19 for pregnant women and their babies, and studies are underway.
The results come as New York approaches 195,500 cases, the highest number in the United States. More than 10,100 people died across the state.
More than 15% (one in six) of women screened for coronavirus tested positive
Of the 33 patients who tested positive, 29 had no symptoms, suggesting that they never knew they had the virus. In the photo, an expectant mother in Bogota wears a facial mask
The study took place at the NewYork-Presbyterian and Columbia University Medical Center between March 22 and April 4, reports the New York Post.
Out of 215 women, four (1.9%) had a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 when they were admitted. They have all tested positive for the virus.
Swabs were then collected from the remaining 211 women who had no symptoms. Of these, 29 (13.7%) were positive.
As a result, 29 of the 33 patients who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (87.9%) were “silent carriers” of the virus.
ARE PREGNANT WOMEN MORE VULNERABLE TO COVID-19 AND WHAT IS THE RISK FOR BABIES?
There is no evidence that pregnant women become more seriously ill if they develop coronavirus than the general population.
The vast majority of pregnant women are expected to have only mild or moderate symptoms, as more severe symptoms such as pneumonia appear to be more common in the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, or medical conditions. long-term.
To date, no deaths from coronavirus have been reported.
If you are pregnant, you are more vulnerable to infections than a woman who is not pregnant, according to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
If you have an underlying condition, such as asthma or diabetes, you may be sicker if you have coronavirus, as it poses a higher risk for those with underlying health problems.
In terms of risk to the baby, the RCOG says, “New evidence suggests that mother-to-baby transmission during pregnancy or delivery (vertical transmission) is likely.
But the college pointed out that in all of the reported cases of newborns developing coronavirus very soon after birth, the baby was fine.
There is currently no evidence suggest an increased risk of miscarriage.
RCOG says, “Based on current evidence, it is unlikely that if you have the virus, it could harm the baby’s development, and none has been observed currently. ”
Some babies born to women with symptoms of coronavirus in China were born prematurely. It is not clear if the coronavirus caused this or if the doctors decided that the baby was going to be born early because the woman was not well.
This means that they never knew they had the virus until they received their test results.
Three of the 29 who had no symptoms developed a fever about two days after giving birth.
A patient with a swab negative for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, developed symptoms after birth.
She had been retested three days after the initial test, according to results published in the New England Medical Journal.
The results underscore the importance of tracking masses of people to find those who have unknowingly got the virus.
A recent study that used a small sample of people in China, published in the British Medical Journal, suggested that 78% of people with COVID-19 have no symptoms.
Although 1.9 million cases have been officially reported worldwide, the figure does not represent all those with mild symptoms who have not been tested, or those who have never had symptoms.
The latest study in New York was carried out by two Columbia University Irving Medical Center patients who developed symptoms of coronavirus after delivery.
Doctors, led by Dr. Desmond Sutton, said pregnant women posed a “unique challenge” in the pandemic, due to their need to visit the hospital so often – where the coronavirus can spread.
They wrote, “Access to this clinical data offers an important opportunity to protect mothers, babies and healthcare teams in these difficult times.
Doctors also warned that the true prevalence of the infection could be underreported due to the false negative results of the SARS-CoV-2 tests.
They said, “The potential benefits of a universal testing approach include the ability to use COVID-19 status to determine hospital isolation practices and bed assignments, inform neonatal care, and guide use. personal protective equipment. “
Pregnant women are generally more vulnerable to contagious infections than the general population. But it is not yet known how this is related to the new coronavirus.
As yet, there is no evidence that expectant mothers are more at risk for serious symptoms.
There is good news in that pregnant women are in a lower risk age group for serious illness.
Women also appear to be less at risk than their male counterparts of suffering from serious COVID-19 complications, according to the data.
However, many questions arise about how the virus could affect a mother during pregnancy – and her baby.
There are several articles on COVID-19 in babies, but more research is needed to distinguish the risks.
Professor Joy Lawn of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told MailOnline: “Pregnancy is a time of hope and fear, and the COVID-19 pandemic amplifies that fear for many. “
The director of the Maternal Adolescent Reproductive and Child Health Center said that data on mother-to-child infection were limited.
The Royal College of Gynecologists (RCOG) says it is “likely” that a mother with the coronavirus can transmit it to her baby in the womb or at birth.
Professor Lawn said: “Several small published Chinese studies do not conclusively prove whether there is vertical transmission of the virus to the baby, but with more data currently coming from Italy and the United States, some cases have been reported.
“There is new data regarding an increased risk of preterm labor, especially with more serious COVID-19 disease during pregnancy.
“So far, no data have been reported regarding COVID-19 and stillbirth, but we do know that for pregnant women with influenza, this is a risk.
“The virus does not pass into breast milk, so the WHO and all experts recommend breastfeeding, which will also help transmit protective immunity to the baby. “
COVID-19 case in New York between March 18 and April 12