Screening for COVID ‐19 at childbirth: does it deliver?

D. Ceulemans, I. ThijsA. Schreurs, J. Vercammen, L. Lannoo, J. Deprest, J. Richter, L. De Catte, R. Devlieger

First published: 25 May 2020


We reviewed the medical records of all consecutive women admitted for delivery at four obstetrical units in North-East Flanders, Belgium, since local introduction of universal screening with PCR on March 30th, 2020. By May 8th, 473 women delivered, of whom 470 (99.4%) were screened (Figure 2). Thirteen tested positive (2.8%). Eight patients were asymptomatic (61.5%), while four had mild upper airway symptoms (30.8%). No patients developed severe disease, hence there were no ICU-admissions, nor deaths. No patients developed symptoms during hospitalisation. One patient tested positive with respiratory symptoms >2 weeks prior to delivery, but had no residual symptoms by the time of delivery (7.7%).

Therefore, in our experience, less than 1 in 35 woman admitted for delivery tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in a country that is in an advanced form of lockdown since March 18th, 2020. Only one in three had mild symptoms.

Our findings may guide clinical decision making, use of Personal Protection Equipment and development of evidence-based guidelines. More importantly, they may reassure the vulnerable population of pregnant women and their health care providers. This could help normalise the pregnancy and childbirth experience for >97% of women. Many modifications and downscaling measures in fetal-maternal care have been taken, with spacing antenatal visits, applying telemedicine and limiting the presence of partners during visits, or even delivery.


Wiley – DOI: