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Health officials in Brazil have asked people to delay getting pregnant until the country has emerged from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Health Officials In Brazil Recommend Postponing Pregnancies Due To New COVID Variants

“The best thing is to wait for a little,” a Brazilian health ministry official said.

Health officials in Brazil have asked people to delay getting pregnant until the country has emerged from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The recommendation comes as new variants of the virus, which health officials claim appear to affect pregnant people more than earlier known strains of the novel coronavirus, further strain the country’s already exhausted health care system.

“If possible, postpone the pregnancy a bit to a better time so that [one] can have a more peaceful pregnancy,” Raphael Câmara Medeiros Parente, Brazil’s Secretary of Primary Health Care, said Friday during a news conference, CNN reported.

While Parente acknowledged that older individuals may not have the option of delaying efforts to expand their family, he urged those who could to do so. "We cannot say this to those who are 42, 43 years old, of course, but for a young woman who can, the best thing is to wait for a little," CNN reported he said.

Brazilian health officials claimed the P.1 COVID variant currently ravaging the country appears to have a greater effect on expecting individuals than earlier-known strains of the virus. "The clinical experience of specialists shows that this new variant acts more aggressively in pregnant women," Parente told journalists Friday, Reuters reported. While Parente did not go into detail, he reportedly said Brazil had recently seen more serious cases of illness due to the P.1 variant in the second trimester of pregnancy and even occasionally in the first.

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But Brazil’s latest recommendation wasn’t just motivated by concerns over the P.1 variant. At least part of the Health Ministry’s reasoning for recommending people postpone their pregnancies is due to how overwhelmed much of Brazil’s health system has become under a new surge of coronavirus cases. Earlier this month, international medical aid agency Doctors Without Borders claimed Brazil’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic had led to a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

“More than 12 months into Brazil’s COVID-19 emergency, there is still no effective, centralized, and coordinated public health response to the outbreak,” the aid agency said in a statement released last week. “The lack of political will to adequately respond to the pandemic is killing Brazilians in their thousands.”

Data released last week by Brazil’s Health Ministry showed the country has recorded more than 13.7 million cases of coronavirus and more than 365,400 deaths. According to Doctors Without Borders, Brazil has reported 11% of the world’s COVID-19 infections and 26.2% of all global COVID-19 deaths.

So far the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported only 497 cases stemming from the P.1 COVID variant in the United States. Additionally, the CDC has maintained that although pregnant people have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID, their overall risk of experiencing severe illness is low.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.