Do pregnant women with COVID-19 infection transmit the disease to newborns?

Do pregnant women with COVID-19 infection transmit the disease to newborns?

Last Reviewed : 12/16/2020
Do pregnant women with COVID-19 infection transmit the disease to newborns?

There has been a lot of concern for pregnant women as Coronavirus suddenly became a pandemic within no time. Ebola virus and Zika virus outbreaks left indelible memories as they had fatal outcomes for pregnant women and newborns. As these outbreaks happened just few years ago, Coronavirus pandemic is creating anxiety amongst pregnant women.

Although there are is no extensive research on the effects of Novel Coronavirus on pregnant women and newborns, limited studies available have shown positive results. There are no cases of mother to fetus transmission reported in any of the research studies. The largest study so far included 38 pregnant women from China. This analysis revealed that unlike infections of pregnant women caused by SARS and MERS virus outbreaks, in these 38 pregnant women, COVID-19 did not lead to maternal deaths. Importantly, and similar to pregnancies with SARS and MERS viral infections, there were no confirmed cases of transmission of COVID-19 disease from the infected mothers to fetuses. All neonatal specimens tested, including in some cases placentas, were negative for Novel Coronavirus.

While these studies are reassuring, there is a concern that COVID-19 disease may spread to the newborn right after birth. If proper precautions are not taken to prevent mother from getting close to the newborn, Novel Coronavirus can spread from mother to the newborn just like how it spreads from one person to the other. It is important to separate mother and the newborn right after birth so that Novel Coronavirus does not spread to the newborn. Once the mother completes 14 days of quarantine or once cleared by the doctor, they can start bonding with the newborn.

Pregnancy is known as a period of higher risk for the consequences of respiratory infections like influenza, so it is important to screen for Covid-19 in the presence of symptoms and to monitor pregnant women closely. At this point in the global pandemic of COVID-19 infection, there is no evidence that Novel Coronavirus undergoes intrauterine or transplacental transmission from infected pregnant women to their fetuses.



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  2. An Analysis of 38 Pregnant Women with COVID-19, Their Newborn Infants, and Maternal-Fetal Transmission of SARS-CoV-2: Maternal Coronavirus Infections and Pregnancy Outcomes. Schwartz DA et al. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2020 Mar 17. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2020-0901-SA
  3. Expert consensus for managing pregnant women and neonates born to mothers with suspected or confirmed novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. Chen D et al. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2020 Mar 20. doi: 10.1002/ijgo.13146
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