SAN ANGELO, Texas — The novel Coronavirus can affect groups of people differently but the guidelines for pregnant women are still being developed.
“From the studies we have from China, we only have about three months worth of data,” said Jenny Wiggins-Smith, DO who is an OB/GYN at Shannon Medical Center.
Doctors are trying to learn more about the impact COVID-19 has on pregnant women. Because the virus is so new, little is known about the effects it has on mother and baby.
According to Dr. Wiggins-Smith, the most recent studies show that most of the pregnant women who have been infected experienced mild to moderate symptoms, but expectant mothers should still take precautions.
“About 8% did have severe symptoms and about 1% had critical findings. That’s lower than the average for infected patients. Now, we do consider pregnant women to be more high risk because their immune system is lower during pregnancy than when they’re not pregnant,” explained Dr. Wiggins-Smith.
So far, there has been no evidence of vertical transmission of the virus from mother to baby.
“They’ve not been able to find the virus in the amniotic fluid, the cord blood or breast milk,” added Dr. Wiggins-Smith.
However, Dr. Wiggins-Smith said it’s better to be safe than sorry. Expectant mothers should try their best to keep from getting infected, especially when at the last stage of pregnancy.
“The best way to do that right now is by social distancing. You don’t want to go to the store, park, church or a restaurant. You need to stay home, practice excellent hygiene, wash your hands, don’t touch your face and week everything wiped down throughout your home,” said Dr. Wiggins-Smith, “Newborns that have contracted the virus have been quite ill. You want to do every precaution to keep the baby from also contracting the virus. A lot of that is keeping the mother healthy and from becoming infected around the time of delivery. After 36 weeks the mother should take additional precautions to prevent exposure, because that’s about the time you’re going to be delivering so that last month, it’s very important to not be exposed.”
To keep mom and baby safe, Shannon Medical Center is only allowing two family members to accompany an expectant mother for the duration of their stay at the hospital.
“We’re allowing two support people total for the duration of them being here. We aren’t allowing children under the age of 16 at all. Unfortunately, small siblings won’t be able to visit the baby at the hospital. It’s in everyone’s safety and best interest,” continued Dr. Wiggins-Smith.