Authored by: Dr. Anish Desai, Strategic Medical Affairs – Adroit Biomed Ltd
Co-authored by: Dr. Sunaina Anand (Pharma D), Medical Affairs Executive – Adroit Biomed Ltd
Pregnancy is one of the most exciting and happy experiences in a woman’s life. Pregnant women are getting scared and finding it tough to take care of themselves and the life growing inside them. The whole world especially pregnant women are in a state of confusion because they don’t know how to protect themselves and their babies. Millions of pregnant women all over the globe are potentially at risk of the Covid-19 infection. There is limited data of treatment of Covid-19 positive pregnant women. In pregnancy the immune system is naturally suppressed so that the mother`s body does not reject the baby and is able to accommodate the growing foetus. Hence an attack by virus/bacteria or any other pathogen during such a sensitive period is an unfavourable situation.
Pregnant women are said to be more prone to diseases and infections, so it is important that an expecting mother does everything it takes to have excellent immunity. An expecting mother with weak immunity is at risk for infections and other conditions mentioned below in figure.
How a Viral Infection Affects the growing baby and pregnancy Outcome
Viral infections which are able to reach the foetus by crossing the placenta might have a dangerous outcome. The baby could be adversely affected by the maternal immune response to the infection. There is some evidence that viral infections lead to preterm labor. There is strong clinical data indicating that children of mothers exposed to certain infectious microorganisms during pregnancy have significantly higher risk of neurological disorders (including psychiatric disorders). One glimmer of hope is that the world hasn’t seen many complications caused by the coronavirus amongst newborns, but the current data is limited. Hence it will be all the more important to steer clearly away from the reach of COVID-19 by having a strong fighting ability.
Pregnancy & Immunity
In general, our immune system is like a barrier – it protects us from illness, germs and toxins by providing a resistance to those infections. Without the body`s own defence mechanism the functioning of organs and overall health can be compromised. During pregnancy, the expecting mother’s immune system is rapidly changing. The maternal immune system plays a critical role in establishing, maintaining and completing a healthy pregnancy. There is a variation in the immune system which leads to different responses depending not only on the type of bacteria / virus or fungi, but also on the stage of the pregnancy.
Strengthen Immunity To Maintain Healthy Pregnancy:
During this stressful situation, special population including pregnant women are advised to stay hydrated, reduce stress, perform mild physical activity or light yoga, get enough sleep and eat healthy.
Well Balanced Diet
During pregnancy, a woman’s needs of carbohydrates, proteins, fats grow significantly. Not only the mother, but the baby in her womb also requires them. Vitamins and minerals are essential in proper growth of the baby and can help boost immunity. When these are not supplied in adequate quantity, pregnant women have a higher risk of falling sick. Hence the need for a sumptuous and balanced diet, vitamin and mineral supplementation is a must to strengthen the immune system.
Should All Pregnant Women Take Supplements?
All pregnant women are prescribed supplements such as folic acid, vitamins and iron but those suffering from nutritional deficiency, nausea & vomiting, multiple pregnancies, poor diet, etc…would need the following additional supplementation.
Nutraceuticals/ Food Supplements Considered Safe During Pregnancy:
It supports growth, bone strength, wound healing, immune system, absorption of iron.
It keeps teeth, bones and muscles healthy.
It helps in proper development of bones.
During pregnancy, the mother supplies blood and oxygen to the foetus, so the demand for iron becomes twice as before to keep up with the increase in blood supply.
Responsible for production, repair, and functioning of DNA. It also relieves symptoms of common cold
Magnesium deficiency in pregnancy may increase the risk of chronic hypertension and premature labor and supplementation may reduce the risk of complications like preterm birth.
It is necessary for foetal growth and development specially the brain.
It decreases the risk of thyroid function abnormalities for women after pregnancy.
It is required for preventing birth defects of brain and spinal cord.
1g/ day of fresh ginger root is used to treat nausea and vomiting.
To conclude, pregnancy is a dynamic state; with different mechanisms of immunity varying on the stage of pregnancy. Fighting infections and strengthening immunity is important during such a sensitive period. Nutraceuticals provide the prevention or treatment of diseases through dietary supplementation. These become highly important during pregnancy to prevent conditions secondary to nutrient deficiency. The most well-known nutritional supplements regularly prescribed in pregnancy include folic acid, iron, calcium, Vitamin D, iodine, zinc, selenium, magnesium and also vitamin C for pregnancy and lactating mothers.