In connection with the coronavirus pandemic, birth support partners and other family members are not allowed to be present for labor, while pregnant women are also worried several regular prenatal tests have been canceled.
"It is true that first-trimester screening has been canceled with the aim of reducing the number of contacts and risk of infection between all parties," Dr. Tuuli Metsvaht from the Estonian Perinatology Association told the "Ringvaade" talk show on Friday. "Gynecologists believe the second trimester's ultrasound screening to be vitally important as it helps catch problems that might not be diagnosable during the first trimester."
"We have turned to the Health Insurance Fund to request replacing the first-trimester screening for all pregnant women with the NIPT test that analyzes small fragments of DNA that are circulating in a pregnant woman's blood to determine the risk that the fetus will be born with certain genetic abnormalities. This test is available in Estonia but only covered by the fund in special cases," she added.
The Estonian Gynecologists Society, Estonian Midwives Society, Estonian Pediatric Association and the Estonian Perinatology Association on Tuesday agreed on a set of guidelines for monitoring normal pregnancies and obstetrical care and for monitoring newborns in risk of being infected with the coronavirus during the COVID-19 epidemic. The decision not to allow birth partners or other family members to be present for the birth of the child has caused the most controversy.
"The decision was not made lightly, while all major maternity clinics tell us that the situation is calm and women heading into labor have been understanding and are concentrating on their child," Metsvaht told "Ringvaade." "Based on the guidelines, mothers and their babies are discharged after 48 hours. Considering everyone's more home-centered lifestyle these days, perhaps it will be possible to make up for those few days."
Metsvaht said that around 200 children have been born in the conditions of broader quarantine measures, while no pregnant women have been diagnosed with COVID-19. "All major hospitals have the possibility of testing patients if there is any doubt," the doctor said. "Isolation or quarantine measures will only remain in effect until the person tests negative for the virus."
Could newborns get the virus from their mother? "We have not seen in-utero infections so far. There is also no conclusive evidence of infection during labor, while the virus affecting babies after they are born has been established," Metsvaht said.
"The data we have is very limited at this time, some descriptions of isolated cases from China. But based on what we know, the disease has manifested lightly in newborns," she added.
Editor: Marcus Turovski