Pregnancy is a special and exciting time for the expecting couples. However, with the growing pandemic, expecting mothers are experiencing subsequent anxiety and fear for unborn baby. The fear is clouding these memorable moments and is raising a serious concern not just for expecting mothers but also for physicians. To understand the underlying effect of virus infection on pregnant women and the likelihood of inheriting the virus, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has introduced a multi-prolonged study to deeply understand the effects of Covid-19 pandemic on pregnant women and baby during and after the pregnancy.
Research funded by @NICHD_NIH will investigate the impact of the #COVID19 pandemic on pregnancy outcomes such as c-section. The study also seeks to determine the risk of transmitting the virus from mother to fetus. #NIH https://t.co/locJfXfHKx pic.twitter.com/1ovF5kkprH
— NIH (@NIH) May 19, 2020
The researchers at Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU) Network will conduct the study. The MFMU Network consists of a group of 12 clinical centers in the United States. NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) is funding them.
Every year, MFMU Network sites monitor more than 160,000 deliveries and keep track of their background including their race and ethnicity as well as geographic background. It enables them to simplify the research findings from different geographical backgrounds. Therefore, for the current NIH funded study, investigators from MFMU Network are planning to add all the data retrieved from the current proposed study to a larger archive which may considerably help in future research to understand the Covid-19 induced effect on maternal health along with pregnancy.
The Research Plan of NIH-Funded Study
In the proposed study, researchers plan to investigate and assess the medical catalogs of an estimated 21,000 women to elucidate the consequential effect of Covid-19 on pregnancy. It will determine whether changes implicated in healthcare system prerequisite to outbreak and overflowing of hospitals in addition to overly exhausted medical staff have resulted in the elevating cases of pregnancy associated complications and cesarian delivery.
Moreover, the study plans to investigate the potential causes underlying the likelihood of transmitting the virus from infected mother to the infant. Newborn babies right after the childbirth will be observed and evaluated till their discharge from the hospital.
The study plan includes monitoring more than 1,500 pregnant females with confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection for a period of 6 months after delivering child.
UNICEF, ahead of Mother’s Day in May, warned about the potential effects of Covid-19 lockdowns on health facilities providing lifesaving services such as maternity care and childbirth. The strict Covid-19 containment is putting millions of lives of pregnant mothers and their babies at great risk. According to UNICEF, the worst hit countries will mainly be Asian, affecting over 42 million pregnant women as majority of the countries lying in these regions have had high mortality rates long before the outbreak was reported. It is also badly affecting developed countries, like the US which is believed to be 6th largest country regarding childbirths.
The devastating circumstances and increased risk of infection to vulnerable newborn babies and their mothers raise a serious concern over maternal and childbirth care. It emphasizes on the need to develop centers solely for caring and treating pregnant women and infants, away from the places that can cause infections, like hospitals that are mainly treating Covid-19 patients.