The decision to attempt pregnancy is a profound moment in a woman/couple’s life. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus, we are living in confusing times.
Currently, very little is known about COVID-19, particularly regarding its effects on pregnant women and infants. As a result, there are no recommendations specific to a women’s desire to conceive or how to evaluate and manage a pregnant woman if she develops COVID-19.
Risk to pregnant women?
At present, there is no convincing evidence pregnant women are more susceptible to becoming infected and developing COVID-19. We also do not know if pregnant women are more at risk of serious complications from the virus, although do they do experience more respiratory infections such as from influenza and SARS-CoV.
Currently available data on COVID-19 does not indicate that pregnant women are at increased risk. However, pregnant women are known to be at greater risk of severe morbidity and mortality from other respiratory infections such as influenza and SARS-CoV (SARS-associated coronavirus). So, the American College of Ob/Gyn (ACOG) does consider all pregnant women, at this time, as high-risk.
While neither ACOG or the CDC have advised against pregnancy, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has release guidance to its members to discontinue fertility treatment cycles with the potential exception of egg freezing for cancer patients about to undergo treatment that may result in their sterility.
What about risks to the baby?
COVID-19 in the mother can cause high fever and if this occurs during the first trimester, the baby is at risk for birth defects. Recently, there are several reports of new born infants testing positive for COVID-19 and experiencing complications. Preterm birth has also been shown among infants born to mothers positive for COVID-19 during pregnancy though it is not certain if the virus was the cause.
What to do?
We are living in unprecedented times with the coronavirus pandemic. Medical news is being released on a near hourly basis. Given the significant uncertainty regarding the absolute risk to pregnant women and baby, it may be prudent for women to defer child bearing at this unprecedented time, until more clarity becomes available.