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News & Press: COVID-19

COVID 19 and a call for surveillance and research during pregnancy:

Thursday, May 7, 2020   (0 Comments)
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A summary of Buekens et al., 2020

By Kai von Klitzing

Recently an international group of renowned epidemiologists and public health researchers have called for coordinated worldwide surveillance and research during pregnancy. The researchers fear that the almost exclusive emphasis on high-risk populations could obscure the specific risk and needs of pregnant women and their unborn and/or newborn babies:

During pregnancy, women experience immunological and physiological changes that might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, and adverse pregnancy outcomes have been observed from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Beyond the virus-specific risks, illnesses with high fevers early in pregnancy are associated with specific birth defects, such as neural tube defects. (Buekens et al., 2020, p. 1)

There is a paucity of available data on the effect of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 in pregnancy:

Published studies to date seem to be reassuring that pregnant women with COVID-19 might not be at increased risk for severe complications or adverse reproductive health outcomes. However, studies have been limited to case series and case reports and lack sufficient numbers to discern infrequent risks attributable to COVID-19 infection. Reports have also been conflicting and inconclusive as to whether vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2 can occur. (Buekens et al., 2020, p. 1)

Based on this analysis the researchers suggest cooperation between countries to address the gaps in knowledge about COVID-19 and its effect on pregnant women and their babies. They point to the importance of transparency of reporting to guarantee the accuracy of data. Key surveillance and research studies should help to inform clinical recommendations and public health guidance tailored to local contacts.


Buekens, Pierre; Alger, Jackeline; Bréart, Gérard; Cafferata, Maria Luisa; Harville, Emily; Tomasso, Giselle: A call for action for COVID-19 surveillance and research during pregnancy. In: The Lancet Global Health. DOI: 10.1016/S2214-109X(20)30206-0.

Recommended web resource:
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection in Pregnancy
Information for healthcare professionals Version 8: Published Friday 17 April 2020
The Royal College of Midwives; Royal College of Obstretricians & Gynaecologists