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ACOG statement on COVID-19

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American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has the following statement on COVID-19 for our community.

Practice Advisory: Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is closely monitoring the outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, and continues to expand. Imported cases of COVID-19 infection in travelers have been detected in the United States, and person-to-person spread of COVID-19 also has been seen among close contacts of returned travelers from Wuhan. However, it is critical to note that at this time, for the general public in the United States, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released Interim Clinical Guidance for Management of Patients with Confirmed 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Infection and guidance for Evaluating and Reporting Persons Under Investigation (PUI).


Due to the current risk of COVID-19, the CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to the People’s Republic of China (this does not include the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, or the island of Taiwan).

Pregnant Women

At this time, very little is known about COVID-19, particularly related to its effect on pregnant women and infants, and there currently are no recommendations specific to pregnant women regarding the evaluation or management of COVID-19.

Based on limited data and case examples from previous coronaviruses (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) and a small number of COVID-19 cases, it is believed that pregnant women may be at higher risk of severe illness, morbidity, or mortality compared with the general population (1-3). Adverse infant outcomes (eg, preterm birth) also have been reported among infants born to mothers positive for COVID-19 during pregnancy. However, this information is based on limited data and it is not clear that these outcomes were related to maternal infection. Currently it is unclear if COVID-19 can cross through the transplacental route to the fetus. There have been a few unsubstantiated reports of infants testing positive for the virus shortly after birth, but validated data is required to understand how these infants were infected and whether or not the virus can be transmitted during pregnancy. In limited recent case series of infants born to mothers infected with COVID-19 published in the peer-reviewed literature, none of the infants have tested positive for COVID-19 (1).

Obstetrician–gynecologists and other health care practitioners should obtain a detailed travel history for pregnant patients presenting with fever and acute respiratory illness and should follow the CDC’s Interim Clinical Guidance for Management of Patients with Confirmed 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Infection and guidance for Evaluating and Reporting Persons Under Investigation (PUI). Of note, health care practitioners should immediately notify infection control personnel at their health care facility and their local or state health department in the event of a PUI for COVID-19.

Infection Prevention and Control in Inpatient Obstetric Care Settings

The CDC has published Interim Considerations for Infection Prevention and Control of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Inpatient Obstetric Healthcare Settings. These considerations apply to health care facilities providing obstetric care for pregnant patients with confirmed COVID-19 or pregnant persons under investigation (PUI) in inpatient obstetric health care settings including obstetrical triage, labor and delivery, recovery and inpatient postpartum settings.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encourages physicians and other obstetric care practitioners to read and familiarize themselves with the complete list of recommendations.

Key highlights from the recommendations include:

Health care practitioners should promptly notify infection control personnel at their facility of the anticipated arrival of a pregnant patient who has confirmed COVID-19 or is a PUI.

Place a patient with known or suspected COVID-19 (ie, PUI) in an Airborne Infection Isolation Room (AIIR) that has been constructed and maintained in accordance with current guidelines. If an AIIR is not available, patients who require hospitalization should be transferred as soon as feasible to a facility where an AIIR is available.

Infants born to mothers with confirmed COVID-19 should be considered PUIs. As such, these infants should be isolated according to the Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for PUIs.

To reduce the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 from the mother to the newborn, facilities should consider temporarily separating (eg, separate rooms) the mother who has confirmed COVID-19 or is a PUI from her baby until the mother’s transmission-based precautions are discontinued.

Discharge for postpartum women should follow recommendations described in the Interim Considerations for Disposition of Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19.

Due to the limited data on COVID-19, these recommendations are largely based on infection prevention and control considerations for other respiratory viruses such as influenza, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV and are intentionally cautious as experts learn more about this new virus.


The CDC has developed Interim Guidance on Breastfeeding for a Mother Confirmed or Under Investigation for COVID-19. There are rare exceptions when breastfeeding or feeding expressed breast milk is not recommended. Whether and how to start or continue breastfeeding should be determined by the mother in coordination with her family and health care practitioners. Currently, the primary concern is not whether the virus can be transmitted through breastmilk, but rather whether an infected mother can transmit the virus through respiratory droplets during the period of breastfeeding. A mother with confirmed COVID-19 or who is a symptomatic PUI should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant, including washing her hands before touching the infant and wearing a face mask, if possible, while breastfeeding. If expressing breast milk with a manual or electric breast pump, the mother should wash her hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use. If possible, consider having someone who is well feed the expressed breast milk to the infant.

In limited case series reported to date, no evidence of virus has been found in the breast milk of women infected with COVID-19; however, it is not yet known if COVID-19 can be transmitted through breast milk (ie, infectious virus in the breast milk).

Precautions for Health Care Personnel

The CDC recommends that all health care personnel who enter the room of a patient with known or suspected COVID-19 (persons under investigation) should adhere to Standard, Contact, and Airborne Precautions. See the CDC’s Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Confirmed 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) or Persons Under Investigation for 2019-nCoV in Healthcare Settings for detailed recommendations.

Additional Information

Currently, health officials are emphasizing that seasonal influenza remains a larger concern for the U.S. population. Influenza activity continues to be high across the United States, and health care practitioners are encouraged to continue offering influenza vaccine to their unvaccinated patients, particularly pregnant women. For more information on seasonal influenza and recommendations for pregnant women see the CDC’s website and ACOG’s Clinical Guidance.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists will continue to closely monitor the evolution of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in collaboration with the CDC. New and updated information will be shared as it becomes available.

This Practice Advisory was developed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Immunization, Infectious Disease, and Public Health Preparedness Expert Work Group in collaboration with Laura E. Riley, MD; Richard Beigi, MD; and Denise J. Jamieson, MD.


Chen H, Guo J, Wang C, Luo F, Yu X, Zhang W, et al. Clinical characteristics and intrauterine vertical transmission potential of COVID-19 infection in nine pregnant women: a retrospective review of medical records. Lancet 2020; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30360-3. Available at:http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673620303603. Retrieved Feb 21, 2020.

Favre G, Pomar L, Musso D, Baud D. 2019-nCoV epidemic: what about pregnancies? Lancet 2020; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30311-1. Available at:https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673620303111. Retrieved February 21, 2020.

Zhu H, Wang L, Fang C, Peng S, Zhang L, Chang G, et al. Clinical analysis of 10 neonates born to mothers with 2019-nCoV pneumonia. Transl Pediatr 2020;9:51-60. Available at:http://tp.amegroups.com/article/view/35919/28274. Retrieved February 21, 2020.

Additional Resources

CDC Novel Coronavirus

Interim Considerations for Infection Prevention and Control of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Inpatient Obstetric Healthcare Settings

CDC Evaluating and Reporting Persons Under Investigation (PUI).

CDC CDC’s Interim Clinical Guidance for Management of Patients with Confirmed 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

CDC FAQs for Pregnant Women

CDC Novel Coronavirus Information for Travelers

A Practice Advisory is issued when information on an emergent clinical issue (e.g. clinical study, scientific report, draft regulation) is released that requires an immediate or rapid response, particularly if it is anticipated that it will generate a multitude of inquiries. A Practice Advisory is a brief, focused statement issued within 24-48 hours of the release of this evolving information and constitutes ACOG clinical guidance. A Practice Advisory is issued only on-line for Fellows but may also be used by patients and the media. Practice Advisories are reviewed periodically for reaffirmation, revision, withdrawal or incorporation into other ACOG guidelines.

This information is designed as an educational resource to aid clinicians in providing obstetric and gynecologic care, and use of this information is voluntary. This information should not be considered as inclusive of all proper treatments or methods of care or as a statement of the standard of care. It is not intended to substitute for the independent professional judgment of the treating clinician. Variations in practice may be warranted when, in the reasonable judgment of the treating clinician, such course of action is indicated by the condition of the patient, limitations of available resources, or advances in knowledge or technology. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reviews its publications regularly; however, its publications may not reflect the most recent evidence. Any updates to this document can be found on www.acog.org or by calling the ACOG Resource Center.

While ACOG makes every effort to present accurate and reliable information, this publication is provided “as is” without any warranty of accuracy, reliability, or otherwise, either express or implied. ACOG does not guarantee, warrant, or endorse the products or services of any firm, organization, or person. Neither ACOG nor its officers, directors, members, employees, or agents will be liable for any loss, damage, or claim with respect to any liabilities, including direct, special, indirect, or consequential damages, incurred in connection with this publication or reliance on the information presented.

Publications of the American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists are protected by copyright and all rights are reserved. The College’s publications may not be reproduced in any form or by any means without written permission from the copyright owner.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 58,000 members, ACOG strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. www.acog.org

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