CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Doctors at Levine Children’s hospital in Charlotte met Friday to answer questions about coronavirus and its impacts on children and pregnant mothers.
“During times like this there is a lot of information circling around -- some of it true, some of it not true -- so our goal today is to break it down for you,” said Atrium Health spokesperson, Claire Simmons.
Doctors say one of the most common questions they’re being asked is whether or not families should still travel for Spring Break.
“If your travel plans are to drive someplace, where you’re not going to be in big crowds, that’s probably Ok,” said Dr. Drew Herman, Chief Medical Officer, for Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s hospital. “But again, it all depends on your mode of travel, who’s going, how you’re getting there, and where you’re going to go, so it’s an individual decision each family needs to make for themselves,” he says.
Another hot topic doctors say they’re being asked about, is should parents remove their children from school?
“We know this is a very distressing and fearful time for a lot of families,” said Dr. Ashley Chadha, Specialty Medical Director, Pediatric Pulmonology at Levine Children’s. “The important thing is that you stay up-to-date and follow recommendations from your local school and school district because things are rapidly evolving, but at this time we are recommending continuing as usual going to school.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), early information out of China, where COVID-19 first started, shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from the virus, including older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease. But Dr. Lorene Temming, a maternal fetal medicine specialist and high-risk OB doctor for Levine Children’s says she considers pregnant women to also be high risk.
“So although most pregnant women who contract coronavirus will do well, there is increased risk of complications like pneumonia, respiratory changes and things like that,” says Dr. Temming.
She says the virus could also cause complications such as pre-term labor and she is encouraging pregnant women to avoid mass transit, such as flying, and to limit non-essential travel.
“Staying away from people around you who might be sick, staying away from large gatherings, things like social isolation,” she says.
So where does the CDC stand on coronavirus and pregnant women? According to their website, “With viruses from the same family as COVID-19, and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, women have had a higher risk of developing severe illness.” However, the CDC says, “we do not know at this time if COVID-19 would cause problems during pregnancy or affect the health of the baby after birth.”
Dr. Temming says another question she and other doctors are being asked regularly is around breastfeeding. She says moms are asking if they should continue to do so.
“We have a lot of good evidence there is no transmission of coronavirus into the breast milk and we know that breastfeeding in general is very good for women and for their children in terms of passing on immunity,” she says.
The CDC has a similar stance, saying “no infants born to mothers with COVID-19 have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. In these cases, which are a small number, the virus was not found in samples of amniotic fluid or breast milk.”