Local hospitals conducting study to see how COVID-19 may affect expectant mothers

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — It’s a growing worry for many pregnant women around the world: having a baby and delivering during the pandemic.

“Just the fear of like bringing something back home, and we really try to limit going outside,” said one expectant mom.

Those concerns are now amplified after a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported pregnant women may be at increase risk for severe COVID-19 complications.

“So the CDC study suggests that women who are pregnant and get COVID-19 may be at increased risk for hospitalization. And when they are hospitalized, they may be at increased risk for being transferred to the intensive care unit, the ICU, but also being ventilated,” said Cleveland Clinic Doctor Ruth Farrell, who is an OB/GYN and Vice-Chair of research for the clinic’s Women Health Institute.

She, along with doctors from University Hospitals and Metro Health, are on the hunt for women to be part of a clinical trial to study the effects COVID-19 may have on expectant moms.

“What we’re doing is asking women who come into delivery to be part of our study. And if they participate in our study, what we ask is to collect samples from both her, the pregnant woman and also from her newborn so we can sample those to see if there’s a presence of the virus or also to see if she had the virus early in the pregnancy, let’s say the first trimester,” said Dr. Farrell.

The study would also reveal if COVID-19 passes from mother to baby through the placenta and if so, when exactly does it occur.

“We know that viruses and drugs can pass through the placenta and cause an effect on the baby as well,” she explained.

Symptoms of loss of taste and smell could be early indicators that a mom-to-be has contracted the virus.

But doctors admit, there are still a lot more questions than answers when it comes to possible transmission.

“I think that reproductive decisions are so important, and they are so personal, they’re between a woman and her family. But I think it’s important that we have the data so women can make the best decisions possible to talk with their families and providers on how to move forward at this time,” she said.

The collaborative study is currently open to all pregnant women across all three medical centers. The goal is to recruit between 100 to 200 women over the next year.


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