The Luxembourgish Superior Council for Infectious Diseases recently changed the status of pregnant women to vulnerable in face of the novel coronavirus. How did this change come about and what does it mean?

Although the busy news cycle may have obscured this recent change, Dr Pit Duschinger, president of the Luxembourgish gynaecology and obstetrics association, confirmed the newly adopted status for pregnant women: "Last week, the council for infectious diseases released new recommendations, which classify pregnant women as vulnerable in face of the virus."

Even though it was already known before the beginning of the pandemic that pregnancy increases vulnerability for complicated infections and respiratory pathologies, it took a significant amount of time before the status was officially changed. In that regard, the superior council's official note states that too many unknowns surrounded the virus when it first broke out to draw the conclusion with complete certainty.

Although the vast majority of studies concerned with the issue indicate that pregnant women do not face particular complications when confronted with Covid-19, recent studies point towards elevated hospitalisation rates, which the council considers reason enough to change the status as a preventive measure.

What does the change mean?

The council issued three recommendations for pregnant women following the change:

  • Limiting social contacts and maintaining safety distances to minimise infection risks
  • Consulting obstetric advice in case of an infection
  • Optimising care when giving birth in terms of infection risks

Nevertheless, Dr Duschinger emphasises that this does not imply pregnant women should only stay home. Since each case sees women in different roles and occupations in daily life, the Ministry of Health decided not to issue universal recommendations. Instead, each employer, who is by law responsible for the well-being of their employees, needs to make proper arrangements.

Are there risks for the baby?

In that aspect, the council report notes that studies about the implications for growing children were thus far inconclusive, especially those surrounding the first trimester of pregnancy: "To this date, no teratogenetic effects have been measured, and they remain unlikely when looking at the particularities of similar coronaviruses."