Coronavirus Risk For Pregnant Canadians: Experts Urge Caution

Pregnant women haven’t fared well during previous respiratory outbreaks.
Coughing, fevers, and body aches are symptoms of both the flu and the new coronavirus. 
Coughing, fevers, and body aches are symptoms of both the flu and the new coronavirus. 

Come down with a nasty cough with a baby on the way? While the new coronavirus is a possible culprit, it’s far more likely you have the flu, the country’s pregnancy experts say.

In response to rising coronavirus concerns, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) released a statement Tuesday. It explained that there’s “limited data” on how pregnant Canadians would be affected and advised checking off common causes like pneumonia and influenza first.

The only pregnant Canadians the statement singles out as potential coronavirus patients are “women with a history of symptoms within 14 days of travel from the Wuhan region in China.”

Expecting mothers quarantined in Wuhan, like Lauren Williams from Langley, B.C. who, may also risk contacting the virus. Williams, who is 35 weeks pregnant, is making headlines as her husband pleas to get them out of the region safely.

The organization also pointed out that pregnant women have compromised immune systems and haven’t fared well during previous respiratory outbreaks.

Watch: will a face mask and hand sanitizer protect you from Coronavirus? Story continues below.

The SOGC outlined the higher mortality rates and need for urgent care pregnant women faced during epidemics like the 2003 SARS outbreak and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.

No risk of infecting the fetus

If a parent has contacted the coronavirus, their unborn child likely won’t catch it from them, according to at least one expert.

“There aren’t any respiratory viruses that we know of that cross the fetus,” Dr. Rajeev Fernando, an infectious disease expert in Southampton, N.Y., told pregnancy resource site What To Expect.

Previous births boost this claim. A 2016 case study following a pregnant woman infected with Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) reports that she recovered after treatment and had a healthy baby boy.

And a pregnant Wuhan resident believed to be infected with the coronavirus had a successful, healthy delivery.

How to protect against coronavirus and other viruses

Pregnancy makes it hard for bodies to fight off infection such as the flu, which is why the Canadian government recommends getting the flu shot to prevent falling ill.

Regular hand-washing and using hand sanitizers can prevent the spread of the coronavirus, as well as other contagious illnesses.

Stay home if you feel unwell in order to prevent potentially spreading illness. If your symptoms worsen, it would be smart to seek a medical professional’s advice.

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