New Coronavirus May Be Tied to Adverse Outcomes in Pregnancy

Mark S. Lesney

February 12, 2020

It is too early yet to explicitly determine the effects of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on pregnant women and their fetuses. This is a critical concern, because members of the coronavirus family, which have been responsible for previous outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV), have demonstrated their ability to cause severe complications during pregnancy, according to researchers.

The SARS virus outbreak and the more recent MERS virus outbreak provide the best available models with which to examine the potential impact of 2019-nCoV on pregnancy, according to a letter published online in the Lancet.

Twelve pregnant women were infected with SARS-CoV during the 2002-2003 pandemic. Three (25%) of these women died during pregnancy. Overall, four of seven women had a miscarriage in the first trimester. In the second or third trimester, two out of five women had fetal growth restriction, and four of the five had preterm birth (one case was spontaneous and three were induced because of the maternal condition), according to corresponding author David Baud, MD, PhD, of the maternal-fetal and obstetrics research unit at Lausanne (Switzerland) University Hospital, and colleagues.

A review of 11 pregnant women infected with the MERS-CoV virus showed that 10 women (91%) presented with adverse outcomes. Six (55%) neonates were admitted to the ICU; three (27%) died. Two neonates were delivered prematurely because their mothers developed severe respiratory failure.

Because 2019-nCov has a potential for similar behavior, "we recommend systematic screening of any suspected 2019-nCoV infection during pregnancy. If 2019-nCoV infection during pregnancy is confirmed, extended follow-up should be recommended for mothers and their fetuses," concluded Dr. Baud and colleagues.

Dr. Baud and associates are known for their previous research on the impacts of the Zika virus on pregnancy. They reported having no competing interests.

SOURCE: Baud D et al. Lancet. 2020 Feb 6. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30311-1.

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