'Cautious optimism': Experts reveal 'no evidence' of coronavirus pregnancy risk

Penny Burfitt
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
Experts say 'no evidence' of COVID-19 risk to pregnancies. Photo: Getty Images

Australia’s leading fertility experts have weighed in on the risk of coronavirus to pregnant women, and those trying for a baby with ‘cautiously optimistic’ news.

Fertility specialist and gynaecologist Dr Raewyn Teirney has released a statement today, revealing that existing evidence suggests the little risk of a pregnant woman who tests positive to COVID-19 transmitting the virus to her baby.

“At present, we have seen no evidence that a foetus is likely to be exposed to COVID-19 in pregnancy if the mother contracts the virus,” Dr Teirney says.

Her statement follows those of other professionals on the matter.

The Fertility Society of Australia agrees, saying, “expert opinion is that the fetus is unlikely to be exposed during pregnancy.”

It also echoes statement released by IVF Australia on Tuesday, which suggested pregnant women are not at increased risk as far as we know, though they acknowledged that so far the number of women who have contracted the virus and then delivered is ‘small’.

“The results are reassuring, including no evidence of mother-to-baby transmission during pregnancy,” the statement reads.

They hastened to add that with the situation still developing, “these results require cautious optimism.”

No established risk of miscarriage from COVID-19

So far, experts have not established a link between coronavirus and miscarriage. Photo: Getty Images

Dr Tierney also clarified that thus far there is also no evidence the virus increases the chance of miscarriage.

“Again, we have no data that indicates COVID-19 increases your risk of miscarriage or early pregnancy loss,” she says.

Of main concern, the experts say, is parent to newborn transmission, though the jury is still out on breastfeeding if you have tested positive.

“We believe if transmission occurs, it is likely to be as a new-born, not during pregnancy,” Dr Tierney says, advising mothers who have tested positive to follow all official advice as well as taking extra precautions.”

“[These] include washing her hands before touching the infant and wearing a face mask, if possible, while breastfeeding,” she says.

She says is expressing breast milk, mothers should diligently wash their hands before touching the pump or bottle, and clean equipment after each use.

“If possible, consider having someone who is well feed the expressed breast milk to the infant,” she adds.

Everyone agrees, however, that with the limited information so far available, everyone, pregnant women included, should be practising social distancing and staying home as much as possible.

The reassurance and tips come after a pregnant woman infected at the NSW wedding that spawned 37 cases revealed her distress at the potential impacts on her unborn baby.

The 35-year-old, who is already mum to two-year-old Lewis and one-year-old Mirabel, told Yahoo Lifestyle Australia she’s worried about the impact the virus will have on her unborn baby and distressed at the sight of her one-year-old battling a high fever.

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