Transmission of COVID-19 from mother to baby during pregnancy is uncommon, and the rate of infection is no greater when the baby is born vaginally, breastfed or allowed contact with the mother, according to a new study.
Transmission of COVID-19 from mother to baby during pregnancy is uncommon
The research also found that babies that did test positive for COVID-19, were mostly asymptomatic. The findings are published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Early reports in the literature on COVID-19 in pregnancy suggested the following
Many early reports in the literature on COVID-19 in pregnancy suggested that in order to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 from mother to baby, it was safer to have a caesarean, to isolate the baby from the mother at birth and to formula feed, but there was very little evidence to support these guidelines.
A Systematic Review of 49 Studies looking into Maternal Transmission of COVID-19 to Baby During Pregnancy
To conclusively look at the risks associated with COVID-19 and pregnancy, experts from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham have undertaken a systematic review of 49 studies looking into this much talked about topic.
Studies reviewed included 666 neonates (newborn babies) and 655 women
The studies reviewed included 666 neonates (newborn babies) and 655 women (as some women delivered twins). Of the women who delivered their babies vaginally, only eight out of 292 (2.7%) had a baby which tested positive for COVID-19.
Of the 364 women who had a caesarean, 20 (5.3%) of those had a baby which tested positive for COVID-19.
These findings show the following
These findings show that neonatal COVID-19 infection is uncommon, and also commonly asymptomatic in those babies who are affected.
The data also showed that the infection rates to be no higher when the baby was born vaginally, breast fed or allowed contact with the mother immediately after birth.
The systematic review was an international effort carried out by Dr Kate Walker, Clinical Associate Professor in Obstetrics, and Jim Thornton, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, from the University of Nottingham, as well as experts at Dalhousie University, Canada and Monash University, Clayton, Australia, and University College Cork, Cork University Maternity Hospital, Ireland.
Dr Walker said: “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.
“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 breast feeding are safe for mothers who find themselves in these circumstances.”
Dr Jeannette Comeau, is a Paediatric Infectious Diseases Physician at Dalhousie University, she said: “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.”
1. Kate F Walker, Keelin O’Donoghue, Nicky Grace, Jon Dorling, Jeannette L Comeau, Wentao Li, Jim G Thornton. Maternal transmission of SARS‐COV‐2 to the neonate, and possible routes for such transmission: A systematic review and critical analysis. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/1471-0528.16362
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review, which has been in print since 2005, and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Love is Medicine Project docuseries, The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit, The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10-week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. You can follow Razi on social media: Facebook at Razi Berry, Instagram at Razi.Berry and join the Love is Medicine group to explore the convergence of love and health. Look for more, and listen to more Love is Medicine podcast episodes here.