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A new study examining the effects of the coronavirus on pregnant women and newborns is underway, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers with the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network will look at the health records of as many as 21,000 women to determine if changes that were made in hospital and health protocols due to the coronavirus pandemic impacted the rate of pregnancy complications or cesarean births, the NIH said in a statement.

The research will also follow 1,500 pregnant women with confirmed cases of Covid-19 before childbirth and for six weeks after to try and determine the risk of transmitting the virus to the fetus, the agency said.

The network is funded by the agency’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and consists of 12 US clinical centers, which cover more than 160,000 deliveries annually. The NIH said the network’s “racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity allows researchers to generalize their study findings to the U.S. population.” 

There is currently no data showing that pregnant women are more susceptible to coronavirus than others, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but pregnant women are at greater risk of serious disease from other respiratory viruses. 

“Sometimes this causes adverse outcomes for the mother or child,” the agency warns on its coronavirus guidance page for pregnant women, and urges them to take all precautions to remain safe, including social distancing measures, frequent hand-washing and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces often.

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