Uncommon for COVID-19 to spread from mother to baby during pregnancy: Study
London, Jun 16: It is uncommon for COVID-19 to spread from a mother to her newborn child during pregnancy, according to a study which says the rate of infection is no greater when the baby is born vaginally, breastfed, or allowed contact with the parent.
The research, published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, also found that babies that did test positive for COVID-19, were mostly asymptomatic. According to the scientists, including those from the University of Nottingham in the UK, early reports had suggested that in order to reduce the risk of mother-baby COVID-19 spread, it was safer to have a caesarean, and isolate the baby from the mother at birth, as well as to formula feed the newborn. However the researchers said there was very little evidence to support these guidelines.
In the current review research, the scientists systematically analysed 49 studies looking into this topic. The review included an analysis of 666 newborn babies, and 655 women (as some women delivered twins). According to the researchers, of the women who delivered their babies vaginally, only eight out of 292 (2.7 per cent) had a baby that tested positive for COVID-19.
Of the 364 women who had a caesarean, they said, 20 (5.3 per cent) had a baby which tested positive for COVID-19. Based on these findings, the researchers said neonatal COVID-19 infection is uncommon, and also commonly asymptomatic in those babies who are affected. They said the infection rates were found to be no higher when the baby was born vaginally, breast fed, or allowed contact with the mother immediately after birth.
"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 Kate Walker, study co-author from the University of Nottingham.
"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," Walker explained.
She added that the chances of newborn infection with COVID-19 is low. "We would also stress that a vaginal birth and breast feeding are safe for mothers who find themselves in these circumstances," Walker said.