The country’s first documented case of vertical transmission of Covid-19 from mother to child, leading to severe disease in the infant, has been reported by Pune’s B J Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital. According to BJMC researchers, this is the first proven case of transplacental transmission of SARS-COV-2 from a pregnant woman to the foetus.
So far, it is unclear whether and how SARS-COV-2 can be transmitted from the mother to the foetus and worldwide, a few cases have been documented in international journals. In April, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had said there was emerging evidence to suggest that a pregnant woman can indeed transmit the novel coronavirus infection to her unborn baby.
The ICMR had provided guidance on management of Covid-19 in pregnant women, and had said that although the proportion of pregnancies affected and significance to the neonate has to be determined, there is emerging evidence to suggest vertical transmission is probable.
Vertical infection is already well documented with HIV and Zika virus infections, but scientific literature about the possibility of vertical transmission in Covid-19 is scarce. This is the first reported case of vertical transmission in the country. The baby, a girl, had required intensive care but recovered completely after three weeks. She was discharged in June, said Dr Murlidhar Tambe, dean of B J Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital.
“Our paper has been accepted for publication in a high-impact US-based international journal. We got an acceptance letter last night,” Dr Aarti Kinikar, professor and head of the Department of Paediatrics at B J Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital, and corresponding author of the study, told The Indian Express.
The Department of Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Microbiology and Biochemistry has reported the case. According to Dr Aarti Kinikar, professor and head of the Department of Paediatrics at B J Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital, it was extremely challenging as the baby had developed a severe form of the disease and it had taken a lot of efforts to treat her successfully.
“A 22-year-old pregnant woman from Hadapsar had reported to Sassoon General Hospital in the last week of May… she had fever one day before the delivery. She, however, tested negative for Covid-19 via the RT-PCR test, but an antibody test showed evidence of Covid infection by a strong antibody response,” said Dr Kinikar.
After the baby was born, her nasopharyngeal swab, placenta and umbilical stump tested positive for Covid-19 by RT-PCR test. She developed symptoms within 24 to 48 hours and had fever, lethargy and signs of severe Covid disease, along with abnormal blood tests suggesting severe inflammation. “We were able to detect the infection in the umbilical cord and placenta. The mother had the infection earlier but was asymptomatic,” said Dr Kinikar.
“Our paper has been accepted for publication in a high-impact US-based international journal. We got an acceptance letter last night,” Dr Kinikar, corresponding author of the study, told The Indian Express.
At the state’s largest government-run hospital, a total of 42 pregnant mothers, who were positive with Covid-19, delivered during the recent 10-day lockdown period from July 14 to 23. Six babies were positive with Covid-19, but that was due to postnatal transmission, while the rest of the babies tested negative.
Recently, Nature journal also demonstrated the transplacental transmission of SARS-COV-2 in a neonate born to a mother infected in the last trimester.