Can COVID-19 be transmitted from pregnant mothers to their unborn babies?

Whether COVID-19 can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to their unborn child has been a huge area of concern internationally. The paper published on March 13, 2020 shows potentially some good news. With a limited number of participants (9), the study found the following:

Research Methods:

Clinical records, laboratory results, and chest CT scans were retrospectively reviewed for nine pregnant women with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 pneumonia (ie, with maternal throat swab samples that were positive for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 [SARS-CoV-2]) who were admitted to Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan, China, from Jan 20 to Jan 31, 2020.

Evidence of intrauterine vertical transmission was assessed by testing for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in amniotic fluid, cord blood, and neonatal throat swab samples.

Breastmilk samples were also collected and tested from patients after the first lactation.

Results

The clinical characteristics of COVID-19 pneumonia in pregnant women were similar to those reported for non-pregnant adult patients who developed COVID-19 pneumonia.

Findings from this small group of cases suggest that there is currently no evidence for intrauterine infection caused by vertical transmission in women who develop COVID-19 pneumonia in late pregnancy.

In English: There is NO EVIDENCE that pregnant mothers are transmitting this virus to their unborn babies.

Continue to consult your doctor about birth plans and possible accommodations if you think you have been exposed or tested positive for COVID-19 and are in the third trimester of your pregnancy.

Scientific Evidence to Support the Findings

  • All nine patients had a cesarean section in their third trimester.
  • Seven patients presented with a fever. Other symptoms, including cough (in four of nine patients), myalgia (in three), sore throat (in two), and malaise (in two), were also observed.
  • Fetal distress was monitored in two cases.
  • Five of nine patients had lymphopenia (<1·0 × 10⁹ cells per L).
  • Three patients had increased aminotransferase concentrations.
  • None of the patients developed severe COVID-19 pneumonia or died, as of Feb 4, 2020.
  • Nine livebirths were recorded.
  • No neonatal asphyxia was observed in newborn babies.
  • All nine live births had a 1-min Apgar score of 8–9 and a 5-min Apgar score of 9–10.

Amniotic fluid, cord blood, neonatal throat swab, and breastmilk samples from six patients were tested for SARS-CoV-2, and all samples tested negative for the virus.

For more information on this study, you can read the original paper:

Clinical characteristics and intrauterine vertical transmission potential of COVID-19 infection in nine pregnant women: a retrospective review of medical records

For more information on COVID-19 research, check out:

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