Coronavirus research

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Below is a selection of recent research on the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. For resources and guidance to help health professionals continue to provide care for babies, their mothers and families during the outbreak, visit our response to Covid-19 page.

Covid-19 and maternal and infant health: Are we getting the balance right? A rapid scoping review 

The purpose of this study was to summarise the evidence of the clinical and psychological impacts of Covid-19 on perinatal women and their infants. Results of the study found that despite the lack of evidence, many maternity services have been imposing severe restrictions on aspects of maternity care previously acknowledged as vital to optimum health (including birth companionship, breastfeeding, and contact between mother and baby).

Topalidou, A. et al. (2020). Covid-19 and maternal and infant health: Are we getting the balance right? A rapid scoping review.  The Practising Midwife, Volume 23 Issue 7. 

Optimising mother-baby contact and infant feeding in a pandemic

Unicef UK Baby Friendly were delighted to be involved in a rapid analytic review by the RCM advisory group. The review offers evidence-based recommendations for midwives and maternity teams on optimising mother-baby contact and infant feeding during Covid-19 and explores the implications of the pandemic on breastfeeding and infant health, including the wearing of face masks.

Renfrew, M. et al. (2020). Optimising mother-baby contact and infant feeding in a pandemic. 

When Separation is not the Answer: Breastfeeding Mothers and Infants affected by COVID‐19

This article discusses separation of mothers and babies affected by Covid-19, saying that separation causes cumulative harms and disrupts breastfeeding, thus preventing the ability to pass on protection against infectious disease. Authors also discuss the risk of “replaceability of breastfeeding” that is caused by separation of mothers and babies and therefore minimised rates of breastfeeding. According to the authors, separation does not ensure lower viral exposure and instead increases the burden on strained healthcare services. Health services are called to consider the short‐and‐long‐term impacts of separating mothers and infants in their policies.

Tomoroi, C., Gribble, K., Palmquist, A., et al. (2020). When Separation is not the Answer: Breastfeeding Mothers and Infants affected by COVID‐19. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/mcn.13033

Navigating pregnancy during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic

This helpful article addresses the fear, uncertainty and anxiety that expectant mothers may be facing during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Unicef spoke with Franka Cadée, President of the International Confederation of Midwives to discuss common questions women may be having, including whether prenatal checkups are considered safe, if Covid-19 can be passed to the baby and whether giving birth in a hospital or healthcare clinic is still considered a good option. The interview covers a range of additional topics, including whether expecting mothers can have a partner or family member nearby during birth, how to protect a newborn from Covid-19 and more.

Rich, M. Unicef. (2020). Navigating pregnancy during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. 

Maintaining safety and service provision in human milk banking: a call to action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

This article calls on global policy leaders and funding agencies to recognise and prioritise the need to address four high-impact areas: (1) ensuring neonatal nutrition is an essential focus during emergencies; (2) funding research to optimise human milk bank systems in response to new infectious threats; (3) investing in innovation across all aspects of milk banking processes to improve the responsivity, access, and quality of donor milk provision; and (4) supporting the integration of learnings and innovations by the global milk bank community during COVID-19 into newborn, nutrition, and emergency response planning for future emergencies. The author notes that this is the best chance to keep infants healthy is to promote breastfeeding and a human milk diet and it is vital to avoid further straining the health system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shenker, N. (2020). Maintaining safety and service provision in human milk banking: a call to action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/S2352-4642(20)30134-6