I was on the bus the other night with my wife. There were only 3 of us not wearing masks on our public transport, which mandates mask wearing but with medical exemptions. Across the aisle was an attractive, healthy looking young woman, perhaps mid 20s wearing a mask.
She was pregnant, I’d guess in the 2nd trimester. According to the US NIOSH (National Institute for Safety and Health) there are now millions of pregnant women wearing masks — primarily because they’re mandated to do so. But there doesn’t appear to be any data for how long they’re worn and under what circumstances, i.e. indoors, outdoors, working, exercising or whatever.
Given what I’ve learned about masks I had a strong urge to warn her that there were serious risks to her and I assumed the unborn baby.
Masks pose a direct threat to the health of the mother and an indirect threat to the unborn child. The most serious threat to both is probably the oxygen depletion caused by having your mouth and nose covered. In addition you will breathe in more carbon dioxide as when you exhale some is trapped in the mask and you rebreath it. These effects have many variables such as general health, age, how long masks are worn and what if any activity is being undertaken.
The pregnant lady on the bus was at rest but supposing she was going to the gym later where they require masks to work out? Or perhaps she’s going to work where she’s physically active.
This is where calculating harm and finding evidence comes in. This article by prominent retired neurosurgeon Dr. Russel Blaylock, a highly regarded MD and author, lays out a whole minefield of risk from wearing face masks. Regarding oxygen he says this:
“While most agree that the N95 mask can cause significant hypoxia and hypercapnia, another study of surgical masks found significant reductions in blood oxygen as well. In this study, researchers examined the blood oxygen levels in 53 surgeons using an oximeter. They measured blood oxygenation before surgery as well as at the end of surgeries.4 The researchers found that the mask reduced the blood oxygen levels (pa02) significantly. The longer the duration of wearing the mask, the greater the fall in blood oxygen levels.”
If blood oxygen saturation is lowered by wearing a mask, then we ask what harm could that do to a pregnant woman? For most healthy young people the harm is probably mild such as a headache that goes away after full breathing is restored. But if the mother’s oxygen saturation is lowered then so is that of the fetus and here things get frankly frightening. A 2012 Arizona State University shows how oxygen deprivation at birth has been shown to result in long term adverse effects such as birth defects and a higher risk for other diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular problems.
Let’s finally ask a question that needs to be addressed because it is a likely reason many people wear the mask; fear of social isolation or condemnation for not wearing one. That is not an insignificant concern.
I was yelled at in a store for not wearing a mask, I was kicked out of a lineup for breakfast at a hotel because I was maskless. I have a medical exemption but are you going to stand in front of a group of people hating on you and explain it? Not likely.
It’s hard but for a pregnant woman – it’s perhaps just the first time in her life she’ll have to advocate for herself and her child, and take a stand. That is truly worth it. Take off the mask. Take a deep breath and share it with your unborn child.The Mask and the Bump