Researchers say medical staff should wear PPE as risk of transmission increases during childbirth



A nurse wearing personal protective equipment. Photo courtesy of County News Center

The risks of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses increase during labor due to the heavier breathing of patients, according to a new study.

A UCLA-led research team recommends that all health care providers in labor and delivery rooms have access to appropriate personal protective equipment to protect patients.

Not all procedures require healthcare providers to have access to PPE, such as N95 masks.

Vaginal birth, for example, is currently not considered a high-risk or aerosol-generating procedure by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This means that N95 masks are currently not recommended for healthcare workers in all labor and delivery settings in healthcare.

The study was published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, involving professors in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UCLA Health and the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UCLA Samueli School of Engineering.

It is the first to show data describing respiratory emissions during labor and delivery and how these emissions can travel faster and potentially further than even a simple cough.

“The research shows how fast and how far respiratory particles produced during labor and delivery can travel,” said Dr. Rashmi Rao, corresponding author of the study.

Rao, assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, said research will continue.

“In the next step of the research, we want to demonstrate that aerosols, which are infectious viral particles that can float or drift in the air, are in fact present in these respiratory emissions,” said Rao.

– City news service

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