More COVID-19 Pregnancy Information for Intended Parents, Surrogates

Here is more information for intended parents and surrogates about the coronavirus disease COVID-19 and what experts are saying about its potential impact on pregnancy. Thanks to our colleague Dr. John Norian of HRC Fertility for sharing this informative Q&A, much of which is drawn from recent articles and from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the American College of ObGyns (ACOG).  

You can follow Dr. Norian on Instagram: @DrJohnNorian or Facebook: @Dr.JohnNorian. 

Information for Pregnant Patients regarding COVID-19

Q:  If I’m pregnant, will my fetus (aka soon-to-be baby) get the virus? 

A:  Likely not.  The vertical or in-utero transmission, i.e., from future Mom to fetus or from Gestational Surrogate to fetus for prior corona viruses (SARS and MERS) has not been reported.  Because it is such a new virus, it is unclear if COVID-19 can cross the placenta and infect the fetus.  As of now, there have not been any cases of vertical cases published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

Q:  If I’m pregnant AND I get COVID-19, is that bad?

A:  It is not ideal.  There is not much information regarding patients with this corona virus (COVID-19).  But pregnant patients with other corona viruses (ie., SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) are at a higher risk of severe illness such as preterm delivery, miscarriage, and growth restriction.  Critical maternal complications are also higher with these two other corona viruses.  Thus, women with confirmed COVID-19 should be self-monitored at home for at least 14 days and be monitored regularly by the Obstetricians for fetal growth and Doppler assessments.  Pregnant women with COVID-19 pneumonia should be managed by a multi-disciplinary team at a high-level medical center.  After delivery a pregnant patient with COVID-19 will likely be isolated away from her newborn for typicall at least 14 days.  Now please remember that any patient with a bad respiratory ailment (e.g., Asthma, Pneumonia, etc.) can also have a more complicated pregnancy similar to one with COVID-19.  So... let’s do our absolute best to stay healthy! See below for tips on how to do so.

Q:  What should I do if I’m a gestational carrier/surrogate or if my fetus will be born via a surrogate during the outbreak?

A:  Because of strict travel restrictions now present throughout the world, it is highly recommended that families and patients develop contingency plans in the event that these babies need to be cared for following their birth.  If the gestational carrier tests positive for COVID-19, then the baby should be cared for separately and isolated for 14 days with close surveillance. 

Q: Should I breast feed my baby if I have COVID-19 or am a PUI (person under investigation of COVID-19)?

A: This is more complicated, and working with your health care provider would be recommended.  Briefly, in limited studies COVID-19 and SARS the viruses have not been detected in breast milk.  But COVID-19 is transmitted via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.  Thus, it is most likely that a newly delivered woman with COVID-19 or who is a PUI will be recommended to pump breast milk and to remain in isolation away from her infant. The mother or gestational surrogate must use good hand-washing and sterile techniques before touching any breast pumps or bottle parts.

Q: What is the risk to pregnant women of getting COVID-19? Is it easier for pregnant women to become ill? Will they be more sick than other people?

A: The short answer is that we really do not currently know if pregnant women are (1) more likely to get COVID-19 and (2) if it’s going to be a more serious illness compared with the general public.  The nice thing is that pregnant women are typically younger and are non-smokers so hopefully their mortality rates will be significantly better.  Now with this being said, pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections. It is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves because they are at higher risk of developing severe illness with viral respiratory infections.

Q: Who are the highest risk groups?

A:  Thank goodness, but it appears NOT to be pregnant patients or young children as of now.  People most at risk are older adults and those with respiratory disease, heart disease, and/or diabetes.  Adults in their 80s, 70s, and 60s and those who are active or former smokers are at high risk.  But please do not get complacent with preventative measures because young people with COVID-19 can still get very sick. 

Q: What is the mortality rate for COVID-19 and how does this compare to other viruses?

A: The latest global mortality rate is: 3.4%, higher than originally reported.  In comparison, the mortality rate of the seasonal flu is 0.1% of those infected. The death rate for COVID-19 is highest for older patients.  By age group the mortality rates are as follows: 14.8% for 80+ yr olds (yo), 8% for 70 – 79 yo, 3.6% for 60 – 69 yo, 1.3% for 50 -59yo, 0.4% for 40 – 49yo, and 0.2% for those 10 – 39 yo.  Please remember that mortality rates can be difficult to calculate, often because people with mild disease may be overlooked and under-reported in the calculation.  

Q:  What can I do to avoid COVID-19?

A:  (1) Avoid close contact with people who are sick. (2) Take everyday preventive actions such as listed below:

  1. Clean your hands often
  2. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughin g, or sneezing, or having been in a public place.
  3. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  4. To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
  5. Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places.
  6. Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc.
  7. Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks & cell phones)
  8. Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.
  9. Avoid all non-essential travel including plane trips, and especially avoid embarking on cruise ships.

 

Rich Vaughn
Richard Vaughn
rich@iflg.net

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
PEIYA WANG(王培娅)
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa
LUIS SOSA
Paralegal

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes
TONI HUGES
Paralegal

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
MIESHA COWART
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.

Kim
KIM DEVEREAUX
Paralegal

Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn
RICHARD B. VAUGHN
Founder

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo
ELIZABETH TAMAYO
Paralegal

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien
SUNNY CHIEN
Paralegal

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

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Molly O'Brien
MOLLY O'BRIEN
Partner

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.