Infectious Diseases 2022

Coronavírus in pregnancy: symptoms, possible risks and how to protect yourself

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Coronavírus in pregnancy: symptoms, possible risks and how to protect yourself
Coronavírus in pregnancy: symptoms, possible risks and how to protect yourself

Coronavirus infection during pregnancy can happen at any week of pregnancy and usually causes the development of mild symptoms such as fever, general malaise and cough, being very similar to the flu.

However, older pregnant women, who are obese, who have other conditions such as diabetes or hypertension, or who become infected after 28 weeks of pregnancy appear to be at greater risk of developing serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing and confusion, which may also increase the risk of pregnancy complications.

Thus, it is recommended that women adopt protective measures against the coronavirus, such as washing their hands regularly, wearing a mask and maintaining social distance. Check out the main ways to protect yourself from the coronavirus.

Main symptoms

Most pregnant women with COVID-19 do not develop signs and symptoms of infection. However, if there are symptoms, they are often flu-like:

  • Fever;
  • Constant cough;
  • Muscle pain;
  • Loss of smell and taste;
  • Diarrhea;
  • General malaise.

The most serious symptoms of COVID-19, such as difficulty breathing, chest pain and mental confusion, for example, are rarer to occur, however they are more likely to appear in women who are already in the third trimester of pregnancy, in addition to having a greater chance of complications.

So, in the presence of signs and symptoms of COVID-19, especially if the woman is more than 28 weeks pregnant, it is important that she go to the hospital so that the necessary measures are taken to prevent the progression of the disease.Know how to identify the symptoms of COVID-19.

Possible risks to pregnancy

Most cases of COVID-19 in pregnancy do not lead to the development of complications, usually being mild cases of the disease. However, women who were infected with the new coronavirus in the third trimester of pregnancy may have more severe symptoms, in addition to having a higher risk of premature birth and a greater tendency to form clots.

According to a study carried out in the United States [1], it is possible that the new coronavirus causes clots to form in the placenta, which appear to reduce the amount of blood that is carried to the baby. Still, the baby's development does not appear to be affected, with the majority of babies born to mothers with COVID-19 having normal weight and development for their gestational age.

Does the virus pass to the baby?

The first studies done on the transmission of coronavirus from mother to fetus showed that the virus was not present in the amniotic fluid, in the baby's throat, or in breast milk.In addition, none of the babies born to mothers with COVID-19 were infected with the new coronavirus, which supported the theory that the virus was not easily transmitted from mother to baby [2, 3]

However, due to a growing increase in suspected cases of COVID-19 in babies soon after birth, further studies were needed to confirm whether it was really possible to transmit the coronavirus during pregnancy.

These studies showed that the coronavirus can, in fact, be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy, as 3 women infected with COVID-19 had babies who tested positive soon after birth, in addition, the coronavirus was identified in the placenta of one of these women, which indicates that the new coronavirus can be transmitted in the uterus [5, 6]

Although these studies show that the coronavirus can be transmitted from the mother to the fetus, they are still very rare cases and, therefore, more studies are needed to identify how this transmission occurs and which risk factors increase the risk possibility of transmitting the virus to the baby.Thus, the ideal thing is that, during pregnancy, the woman takes all the care to avoid infection by COVID-19, such as washing her hands frequently and wearing a mask, for example.

Can women with COVID-19 breastfeed?

According to the WHO [4] and some studies carried out with pregnant women [2, 3], the risk of passing the infection by the new coronavirus for the baby seems to be very low and, therefore, it is advised that the woman breastfeed if she feels in good he alth and wants to.

It is only recommended that women take some precautions when breastfeeding to protect the baby from other transmission routes, such as washing hands before breastfeeding and wearing a mask during breastfeeding.

How to avoid getting COVID-19 during pregnancy

Although the symptoms in pregnancy are not severe and there is a low risk of transmission of the virus from the mother to the baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding, it is important that the woman reinforces the preventive measures of infection, especially if she is in the third trimester of pregnancy.Therefore, it is recommended:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for about 20 seconds;
  • Avoid touching eyes, mouth and nose;
  • Avoid being in an environment with many people and with little air circulation;
  • Drink plenty of water and stay active, as this will reduce the risk of clot formation;
  • Use appropriate masks;
  • Have a balanced diet and vitamin D and folic acid supplementation, if recommended.

Furthermore, it is important that routine consultations with the obstetrician are maintained, so that it is possible to monitor the baby's development and ensure that it is happening in a he althy way.

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