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Ebola in pregnancy advice

5 November, 2014

Ebola in pregnancy advice


Ebola. Credit: iStock Ebola. Credit: iStock

Updated advice on Ebola in pregnancy has been made available from Public Health England (PHE).

The revised version, which is available on the PHE website, has included additional information as a result of input from RCM’s director for midwifery Louise Silverton last month.

The guidance has said that, while Ebola virus is not found in the UK, there is a chance that travellers or returning aid workers infected in Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone could arrive in Britain while incubating the disease.

As the incubation period for Ebola can range from two to 21 days, they then may develop symptoms and present to healthcare settings.

The updates have covered the transmission of Ebola, treatment of the disease and special considerations for breastfeeding women. An addition on amniotic fluid has also been added.

The guidance has acknowledged that much of what is known about Ebola in pregnancy has come from previous outbreaks in Africa. There has been no evidence in these outbreaks that has suggested pregnant women are more susceptible to Ebola virus disease.

However, the limited evidence does suggest that pregnant women are at increased risk of severe illness, complications and death when infected. Complications include spontaneous abortion and pregnancy-associated haemorrhage.

Infants born to mothers who are in the terminal stage of disease are invariably infected, with high neonatal mortality rates reported, said the guidance.

It is unknown whether Ebola virus can be transmitted routinely from mothers to infants through breastfeeding.

The updated version of the guidance is available here.

There is currently no maternity specific advice on Ebola. However, much of the general advice produced by the public health departments in the UK countries is applicable and links can be found below. Maternity information is being developed and will be shown here once available.

Advice to a breastfeeding woman, who is being investigated as a suspected Ebola case, should be to stop breastfeeding pending the test result, but this should be in context with an individual risk assessment on the likelihood of viral haemorrhagic fever.

Advice where it is suspected that an individual may have Ebola.

The UK government advice can be found here.

Information for Scotland

Public health England

Northern Ireland


For midwives travelling to work or volunteer in affected areas please follow the Foreign Office advice and also advice for volunteers.

Watch 'The low risk of Ebola in the UK', video from the Chief Medical Officer.


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