Coronavirus And Pregnancy - All You Need To Know5 minute
As much of an exhausting period it may be for many people to stay at home for weeks together in this coronavirus pandemic, it is more so for pregnant women, especially those with due dates right around the corner.
There are so many questions asked about pregnancy and about the impact on the health of the mother and her child. So we thought we would take this opportunity, do our bit of thorough research, and try and answer some of the most asked questions about pregnancy and the novel coronavirus.
First and foremost, it is important to understand how the virus spreads. The spread occurs through respiratory droplets sent to the air when a person who has the COVID-19 flu coughs/sneezes. It can also spread if someone touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their mouth, the inside of their nose, or their eyes. Current evidence suggests that the incubation period of the virus is anywhere from 2-14 days.
Now that this bit is clear, let's move to answer some of the most asked-questions and concerns that pregnant women have:
- Does contracting the coronavirus increase the risk of miscarriage or other such complications?
An increased risk of miscarriage or fetal malformations has not been documented in pregnant women who are infected with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Based on data from other coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists notes that pregnant women who get COVID-19 may have a higher risk for some complications, such as preterm birth. However, this data is extremely limited, and the infection may not be the direct cause of preterm birth.
- What can a pregnant mother do to avoid catching the coronavirus?
The most important step is to practice excellent hand hygiene by frequently washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, mouth, and nose. Public health officials urge people to tightly limit gatherings and to stay home as much as possible. Social distancing is important to limit the spread of the virus. It’s safe to go out for walks — just try to remain six feet away from anyone who doesn’t live with you.
If you have a mild cough or cold, stay at home and limit exposures to other people. Sneeze and cough into a tissue that you discard immediately, or into your elbow, to avoid making others sick. Hydration and adequate rest also are important in maintaining the health of your immune system.
- What is the risk of passing on the virus on to one’s fetus or newborn?
Currently, only small studies reporting on a limited number of cases are available to answer many questions, including this one. Most of the women in these case reports had COVID-19 during the third trimester of pregnancy.
- A study of nine pregnant women who were infected with COVID-19 and had symptoms showed that none of their babies was affected by the virus. The virus was not present in amniotic fluid, the babies’ throats, or in breast milk.
- Another study of 38 women infected with COVID-19 found that none of the newborns tested positive for the disease.
- Two case reports of infants born to mothers infected with SARS-CoV-2 demonstrated that the infants had elevated levels of antibodies to the virus but did not demonstrate any clinical evidence of infection with the virus (see here and here).
- Another case report analyzing 33 pregnant women infected with SARS-CoV-2 found that three of their newborns were also infected with the virus and had clinical signs of infection, as well as confirmation of COVID-19 infection. It is unclear whether these newborns were infected while in the womb or if these infections were acquired after birth, as the newborns were tested when they were days old. The possibility of vertical transmission (passing the virus from mother to baby) has not been ruled out.
The risk of passing the infection to a fetus appears to be very low. Currently there is no evidence of any fetal malformations or effects due to maternal infection with COVID-19.
If a woman has an infection with a high fever during the first trimester, it’s safest to use acetaminophen to lower temperature to avoid risk to the developing fetus.
- Will all the doctors be diverted in case of a COVID-19 emergency situation and is it possible that there might be no doctor available at the time a woman has to deliver her baby?
Hospitals are responsible for making contingency plans for emergencies that might require diverting hospital staff. Ask your obstetric team about contingency plans at your hospital. They should be able to keep you updated on any change in plans. At our hospital, there is currently no plan for obstetricians to be redeployed. Obstetrics is an essential component of health, and it is likely that a physician trained in obstetrics will be present at the time of your baby’s birth. Ask your health care team about this.
- Could spending time in the hospital after delivery increase the mother’s risk of exposure to COVID-19?
Hospital staff and your obstetric team are trying to minimize the number of people who come to the hospital. There are rules to make sure that anyone who needs to be evaluated for COVID-19 will be isolated from other patients. All medical staff are working hard to ensure that your risk of being exposed to COVID-19 is low.
In the hospital, many precautions are being taken to minimize exposure risks. If you choose to do so, it may be possible to go home sooner than you normally would after birth, as long as you feel well and your birth was uncomplicated. Talk to your obstetric team about this.
- If the mother is tested positive for COVID-19, can she still breastfeed her baby?
Currently, there is no evidence of the virus in breast milk. Given that the virus is spread through respiratory droplets, mothers should wash their hands and consider wearing a face mask to minimize infants’ exposure to the virus. The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists recommends that mothers infected with COVID-19 express breastmilk to allow someone else to feed the baby. (Be sure to use proper hand hygiene and cleaning of breast pump parts.)
However, the CDC states that handwashing and wearing a face mask should minimize risks to the infant.
We hope you found this article useful :)
The Bois Locker Room: An Instagram Chat Or A Wake-up Call?3 minute
If you’re not already aware of what this case is all about, a group of young boys in Delhi on a private Instagram chat (screenshots of which were shared around later) called “Bois Locker Room” were seen objectifying, degrading, rating, demeaning young girls, sharing their pictures (some of this girls were only 14-15 years old) and even threatening to rape or kill them in case they got exposed.
Screenshots of this group chat were shared across social media platforms - predominantly Instagram and Twitter, after which the school authorities of these students (the 20+ boys) requested the Delhi police to investigate the incident.
The Delhi police have so far found that some students of leading South Delhi schools created the Instagram group in the last week of March and started adding their friends. “A few members are in college. Some of the teens allegedly started sharing photos posted by schoolgirls on their Instagram accounts, and passing sexually explicit comments,” an officer said, adding that the purported chats also included threats of sexual violence.
DCP Anyesh Roy told The Indian Express, “After we came to know, we registered an FIR under Sections 465 (forgery), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record), 469 (forgery for purpose of harming reputation), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and Sections 67 (publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) and 67A (publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act in electronic form) of the IT Act.
The case is still under investigation. But..
All the right things that could’ve gone wrong:
First off, the boys on the group chat threatened some of the girls to rape, kill, and humiliate them if they dared to share any of this information with anyone. But the girls, being well-educated (and smart) enough to know that no such thing could actually take place if a complaint was lodged, went ahead to expose them anyways. But you see, things like this happen EVERY DAY and young girls are often a) either too ignorant to pay attention and brush off these issues as “minor” or b) scared of the empty threats that honestly have no real follow-throughs.
Second, the school authorities specifically requested the police to investigate the incident. Now again, this may not have happened in many other cases. A lot of times, any kind of vulgar behaviour, especially in schools and colleges in India, is looked upon as high risk to the reputations of these institutions so they prefer to sweep it all under a carpet.
And third, social shaming. In cases like these, we bless the speed of the internet. Social media fastens the process of information spreading, and it is necessary for people to acknowledge this pro of social media platforms. But more often than not, a lot of serious issues may be lost under all that is glitter and jolly good, unicorns and rainbows - But this piece of incident DIDN’T. Imagine the number of people that want to have a voice to socially bring shame to their oppressors, but are unsuccessful. At least this one caught the eye - and the punishment of being recognized as a “so and so” in case of this incident will stick with the boys for a lifetime.
Now, the case is under investigation, and a judgment has not yet been made. But it’s clear to the general audience that since some of the girls (whose pictures had been shared on the group chat) were underage, this is child porn. So not only are what these boys doing morally incorrect, but also illegal under IP section 292, 293.
We hope for the best outcomes.
What Is Herd Immunity? Everything You Need To Know2 minute
Picture a herd or community of healthy people. An infectious virus or disease would pass easily through the community from person to person. Vaccines train our immune system to protect us from diseases it hasn’t come in contact with before. For example, the MMR vaccine provides immunity against measles, mumps, and rubella. During an outbreak of a disease, vaccinated people will remain healthy. As they won't become infected, they won't pass on the disease. Hence, if most of the community is vaccinated, it makes it difficult for the disease to actually spread to the rest of the community. This is the basis of herd immunity.
If most people in the community are not vaccinated, herd immunity can break down, allowing the disease to spread more easily.
Herd immunity becomes especially important for the individuals in a herd who can't be vaccinated. These could be people who are either too old, too young or have weaker immune systems
Herd Immunity without Vaccination: Another way the building of herd immunity could happen is if many people contract the disease and in time build up an immune response to it (natural immunity). In this case, the herd would have to be fit enough to contract the disease, survive it and then become immune towards it.
It is important to note that in order for herd immunity to take action, the disease/virus must be categorized as a Contagious one. (capable of spreading)
COVID-19 and Herd Immunity In India
Renowned Immunologist and Cell Biologist Dipyaman Ganguly has said that one of the only hopes in defeating the novel coronavirus is by developing ‘herd immunity,’
In an interview with news9, he said, “This coronavirus is not going anywhere. Viruses don’t go anywhere. They may become weak but its strand remains. The virus will keep infecting people until a large population develops immunity against it.”
He has also stated that immunity could only be achieved through a vaccine or by getting infected by the virus. “Since developing a vaccine for COVID-19 is not an easy task and it is unlikely that we will get one soon, the only hope that remains is that of herd immunity and it is bound to happen.”
Explaining the idea of herd immunity further, he said, “The virus is going to infect a large number of populations in India. When a large number of people get infected, their bodies will develop natural immunity. They will stop the virus from spreading further by breaking the chain of infections transmitted from one person to another.” “Since I am closely monitoring the situation, I am sure that we are moving towards herd immunity,” he added.
Studying infection trends in India, he said that most coronavirus cases will be asymptomatic. Patients will recover through natural immunity and vitamin boosting medication suggested by doctors. However, those with existing health conditions could develop severe complications as the virus is shown to aggravate symptoms.