Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Stony...

Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Stony Brook Children's Hospital, seen on Friday, suggested that pregnant women stay in close contact with their medical provider should they feel any symptoms, such as fever, cough and runny nose. Credit: James Carbone

Long Island medical experts offered some reassurances for pregnant women concerned about the coronavirus, pointing out that the number of women getting severely sick with the virus during pregnancy has been low. 

In addition, Dr. Burton Rochelson, chief of maternal fetal medicine for Northwell Health, said he feels comfortable saying the virus "probably doesn't get to the fetus" if contracted during pregnancy.

Rochelson said reports he has seen only deal with 34 cases of pregnant women with coronavirus across the globe. He noted there's more testing and studies to be done to determine whether pregnant women are more at risk for the virus, or whether the illness could hurt them or their unborn children. 

When "we get more information, we'll have a better sense," Rochelson said. "What we don't know is whether that will give people more comfort or not."

The latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes clear the degree to which researchers don't have solid answers. The CDC pointed out that these limited number of reports show no infants born to mothers with coronavirus have tested positive for the illness. In addition, the virus was not found in their samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk.

"We do not currently know if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 [coronavirus] than the general public, or whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result," said the latest update on the CDC website.

Rochelson said he suspects the majority of women who contract coronavirus during pregnancy will get through it well, as well as their babies. Much depends on how sick the mother becomes, he said. If a mother has a high fever in the early part of the pregnancy, that can affect the fetus, he said.

A pregnant woman waits for a train on a platform...

A pregnant woman waits for a train on a platform at the Plaza de Espana subway station in Barcelona, Spain, on Friday. Credit: EPA-EFE / Shutterstock / Marta Perez

"But that's the fever, not the virus," Rochelson said.

He added, "It's very unlikely that the virus itself will result in a miscarriage. But if you have a mother who has a very low oxygen level because her pulmonary function is really bad, and she's having trouble breathing, there could be problems. But it's not related to the virus itself."

Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Stony Brook Children's Hospital, suggested that pregnant women stay in close contact with their medical provider should they feel any symptoms, such as fever, cough and runny nose.

Nachman said the case reports so far offer some optimism. The vast majority of pregnant women with the illness did not require hospitalization, she said.

"It's right to be concerned, but it's not right to do more than that at this time," Nachman said.

Added Rochelson, "There's two epidemics going on right now. One of them is the coronavirus, and the other is fear. In a lot of ways, the fear may be harder to control."


 

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