Transmission of COVID-19 from mother to baby is uncommon finds new study

By AFP Relax News,

A new study has reassuring results for mothers-to-be, finding that transmission of the COVID-19 virus from mom to baby is uncommon during pregnancy.

To investigate the risks associated with COVID-19 for children born during the pandemic, UK, Canadian, Australian and Irish researchers carried out a review of 49 studies which included 655 women and 666 newborns, including some twins.

The findings, published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, showed that transmission of COVID-19 from mother to baby during pregnancy is uncommon, and that then when babies that did test positive for COVID-19, they were mostly asymptomatic.

The researchers also found that despite early reports that birth via a cesarean section, isolating the baby from the mother at birth and formula feeding rather than breastfeeding can all reduce the risk of transmission, the risk appeared to be no higher when the baby was born vaginally, allowed contact with the mother immediately after birth or breast fed.

In fact, only eight out of 292 (2.7 percent) women who delivered their babies vaginally had a baby which tested positive for COVID-19, compared to 20 (5.3 percent) out of 364 women who had a cesarean.

“There has been a lot of concern around whether pregnant women should be concerned for the health of their babies if they contract COVID-19,” said study author Dr. Kate Walker.

“We wanted to look at the outcome for babies whose mothers contracted the virus and see if the route of birth, method of infant feeding and mother/baby interaction increased the risk of babies contracting the virus. From our results, we are satisfied that the chance of newborn infection with COVID-19 is low.”

“We would also stress that a vaginal birth and breastfeeding are safe for mothers who find themselves in these circumstances.”

Researcher Dr. Jeannette Comeau also added that, “I am happy to see that the data continues to be reassuring, supporting keeping the mother/infant pair together after birth, underlining that while occasional postnatal infant infection is detected, clinical course tends to be mild. From the cases of infection in the newborn we do not have confirmatory evidence that this infection was acquired in the womb or during birth.”

File photo: Woman touching her stomach

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