There is currently no evidence that the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) causes severe adverse outcomes in newborn babies or that it can pass to the child while in the womb, according to a small observational study of women from Wuhan, China. These women were in the third trimester of pregnancy and had pneumonia caused by COVID-19.
In the study, published in The Lancet, there were two cases of fetal distress, but all nine pregnancies resulted in livebirths.
The study also found that symptoms from COVID-19 infection in pregnant women were similar to those reported in non-pregnant adults, and no women in the study developed severe pneumonia or died.
The authors of the study caution that their findings are based on a limited number of cases, over a short period of time, and only included women who were late in their pregnancy and gave birth by caesarean section. (Click to follow our coverage of coronavirus outbreak)
The effects of mothers being infected with the virus during the first or second trimester of pregnancy and the subsequent outcomes for their offspring remain unclear, as well as whether the virus can be passed from mother to child during vaginal birth.
The new study comes after the news of a newborn (born to a mother infected with COVID-19) testing positive for COVID-19 infection within 36 hours of birth, which prompted questions about whether the virus could be contracted in the womb.
Talking about this case, lead author of the study Professor Yuanzhen Zhang, Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, China, says: “It is important to note that many important clinical details of this case are missing, and for this reason, we cannot conclude from this one case whether intrauterine infection is possible. Nonetheless, we should continue to pay special attention to newborns born to mothers with COVID-19 pneumonia to help prevent infections in this group.”
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