Infected pregnant women may pass coronavirus onto babies, small study suggests

Pregnant women with the coronavirus may be able to transmit the infection to their babies, although it is unclear whether this transmission occurs in the womb.

Although more research is needed, a small one study, published in JAMA Pediatrics magazine on Thursday, found that out of 33 women in China who were confirmed to have the coronavirus during pregnancy, gave birth to three newborns who were then diagnosed with the virus. All three infants recovered and there was growing evidence that most children experience milder cases of COVID-19, the coronavirus disease, than adults.

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Babies born to the other 30 women in the study tested negative for the virus.

Because the three newborns who tested positive were diagnosed so early in life – all three received positive tests on the second day of life and again on the fourth day of life – the source of the transmission was probably “maternal”, the study authors wrote.

What exactly that means is up for debate, said Dr. David Kimberlin, professor of pediatrics at the University of Alabama in Birmingham and doctor of pediatric infectious diseases, who was not involved in the study.

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Very few viruses get into the placenta and infect babies in the uterus, Kimberlin said, although some – like Zika – do so with devastating effects. In the coronavirus study, the positive results of the newborns, which were obtained by swab tests, “rather indicate the possibility of perinatal transmission at the time of delivery,” he added.

The babies may have received the coronavirus from the birth canal, among other things, or from micro-tears in their amniotic sacs, he said.

But because the sample size is so small, more information is needed, according to Kimberlin, who co-authored one editorial About two other articles published on Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association about whether the coronavirus can be acquired in the uterus.

These papers suggest that infants born to infected mothers may have raised antibodies to the virus found in their own blood, although it is not clear whether the antibodies are produced in the womb in response to infection or are simply made by the mother and baby were transferred to the mother.

The data at this time are “inconclusive and do not prove in uterine transmission,” said the editorial.

The JAMA Pediatrics study provided encouraging news about the ability of infants to recover from the coronavirus. Two of the three infected with it were no longer tested positive on the sixth day of life, and the third who was born prematurely was negative on the seventh day of life.

The child was born almost nine weeks earlier because the mother had complications from the coronavirus, including pneumonia. The child needed more medical help to recover, although the researchers admitted that his health problems may be related to his premature birth rather than the virus itself.

The other two sick babies were lethargic and showed signs of pneumonia in the lungs. One vomited during the week-long course of the disease.

The premature baby was diagnosed with neonatal respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia, which had to be revived at birth. Two weeks after life, the respiratory symptoms associated with the coronavirus had subsided.

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Experts have a variety of theories as to why children generally do better with coronavirus than adults, including the size of the immune response they trigger, the size and maturity of a receptor in their lungs to which the virus appears to bind, and the possibility that school-age children have cross protection against this new corona virus because they are constantly exposed to other viruses.

But nobody understands exactly why children, including newborns, get milder cases of it.

“The honest answer is that we don’t know why,” Kimberlin said. He warned that while the three babies in this study had recovered well, “we need a lot more information before we can say that not all babies are at risk of serious complications.”

Regardless, experts do not recommend that pregnant women make changes to their birth plans. In most cases, the time and shipping method should not be changed. according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologistsand a hospital birth, not a home birth, is still the safest way.

“There is a greater likelihood that there will be a problem with childbirth at home than our current understanding of the likelihood of risk from a woman born in a hospital,” said Kimberlin.

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