The COVID Mothers Study is a worldwide survey of mothers which aims to answer the following questions about an infected mother's maternity experiences: Was she separated from her infant? Was she allowed to have skin-to-skin contact in the first hour after birth, and was she allowed to directly breastfeed her infant? We also ask if she had her breasts washed. We then ask about the outcomes: Did she have difficulty breastfeeding? Did her infant get COVID? If so, how severe was the infant's disease?
The principle investigators are Melissa Bartick, MD, MS, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts; Lori Feldman-Winter, MD, MPH, Professor of Pediatrics at Cooper University Health Care in Camden, New Jersey; and Verónica Valdés, MD, retired Auxiliary Associate Professor of Family Medicine of the School of Medicine, Catholic University of Chile in Santiago. The researchers are also collaborating with Angela Giusti, PhD, IBCLC and public health researcher from the Italian National Institute of Health in Rome (similar to the US National Institutes of Health), and Elise Chapin, M.Ed., IBCLC, a researcher from the Italian National Committee for UNICEF. Chapin is also coordinator of the Baby-Friendly Initiative in Italy. The survey has been reviewed by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Harvard University.
Mothers can participate if either they or their infant had COVID-19 prior to the infant's first birthday. In order to gain full knowledge of how a mother's peripartum experience affected her, mothers cannot fill out the survey until their infants are at least 1 month old. By including infants who experienced COVID at ages beyond the perinatal period, we will be able to correlate disease incidence and severity with breastfeeding history if we get a large enough sample size of older infants. We also ask mothers about the psychological impact of infant separation on them, in order to get a sense of the magnitude of maternal harm, if any, from this routine practice.
Because countries in the European Union and the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland are covered by data protection regulations that require a lengthy approval process, we do not expect them to be able to participate in the survey until late May or early June.
The survey is built on the Qualtrics platform licensed to Harvard Medical School, and takes respondents anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes to complete. Not all respondents will see every question. The survey is anonymous, and no identifying information is collected from respondents, including their IP addresses or demographic information. We only ask respondents their country of residence.