During the coronavirus pandemic, women are being urged not to undergo IVF due to concerns that the virus may have adverse effects since birth.
A report by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) says all couples who are considering fertility treatment “should avoid becoming pregnant at this time.”
Although the statement makes clear there is “no strong evidence of any negative effects” of coronavirus on pregnancies, it says there have been some reports of women with COVID-19 giving birth prematurely.
In the report, it advises those who are already undergoing IVF to freeze their eggs or the embryos that they have created as a “precautionary measure.”
It states: “We advise that all fertility patients considering or planning treatment, even if they do not meet the diagnostic criteria for Covid-19 infection, should avoid becoming pregnant at this time.
“For those patients already having treatment, we suggest considering deferred pregnancy with oocyte or embryo freezing for later embryo transfer.”
The report also advises that patients who are pregnant or those undergoing treatment not travel to areas with high infection and contact with potentially infected people.
The ESHRE found cases of women who tested positive for Covid-19 who delivered healthy babies without the virus.
It said there have been reports of premature babies – but cautioned this was based on limited data.
One case reported that a baby was born with Covid-19 but again there was no strong evidence that this was the result of transmission from the mother or “vertical transmission”.
It is estimated that more than 68,000 women in the UK undertake IVF every year, many of whom are in their late thirties.
The Government has included pregnant women in it’s ‘at risk’ group when issuing advice on coronavirus.
Mothers-to-be are strongly advised to follow social distancing measures and to avoid public transport or going out to cinemas and restaurants.
Professor Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, said that including pregnant women in this group was a “precautionary measure” as experts are “early in our understanding of this virus”.
And his deputy, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said it’s hoped that these new measures will reduce the infection rate and protect those at higher risk.
He told the BBC: “When it comes to this coronavirus, it is a new disease, it’s been with humans around the world for just a few months.
“We are being very precautionary in terms of the advice we are giving to pregnant women to increase their social distancing.”
Earlier today the NHS revealed that they would send their pregnant staff to low risk hospitals in areas with few cases of the virus.”We know that a whole range of normal infections are more serious in pregnancy and the advice we’re giving is extremely precautionary.”