Like any other viral complication, pregnant women are part of the “high-risk” population when it comes to COVID-19, says a local doctor.

“You have another person growing inside of you, so your immune system obviously has to react a little differently to allow that to happen and that potentially could allow ... viruses to cause problems with pregnant people,” said Hardin Memorial Health Chief of Staff Michael Nethers, M.D., an obstetrics and gynecology specialist.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections.

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.

With COVID-19, Nethers said the virus doesn’t appear to pass from mother to child in the womb.

Dr. Wei Zhang, an associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern Uni­ver­sity’s Feinberg School of Medicine, recently co-­authored a study that looked at nine pregnant women in China diagnosed with COVID-19 who gave birth via cesarean section.

The research tested amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood, baby’s throat swab and breast milk, and didn’t find any evidence the virus could pass from mom to baby in the womb or through a C-section.

“I want to reassure pregnant moms right now, that when they are pregnant, even if they get sick, that is not going to be passed on to the baby, but they do need to continue to take good care of themselves because they are at higher risk just like other high-risk populations,” Nethers said.

This leads back to social distancing, which consistently has been urged by medical professionals. According to the CDC, it’s always recommended for women who are pregnant to protect themselves from illnesses.

Nethers said they are practicing social distancing at his office, taking precautions for the safety of patients and staff.

“At my particular office, we really don’t have anybody in the waiting room,” he said. “They come and give us their symptoms and go back out to the car, come in and go back to the nurse. There are no more than a couple patients at a time in the building.”

To protect themselves, the CDC said pregnant women should do the same things as the public to avoid infection:

• Cover your cough, using your elbow is a good technique.

• Avoid people who are sick.

• Clean your hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

On Wednesday, Gov. Andy Beshear an­nounc­ed one of Ken­tucky’s confirmed COVID-19 cases was an 8-­month-­old in Jefferson County. He said the child was in good condition and being treated at home.

“This is very rare in what we have seen on the coronavirus,” he said.

Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1741 or

(1) comment


I know a few people who are pregnant right now, and this headline is unnecessarily negative compared to the information in the article. These women are being bombarded with "end of the world" info while they are trying to grow a human. Please let's support them and not instill panic.

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