Promising News with Regards to COVID-19 Mothers and Newborns

September 23, 2020

A small study is reporting very few adverse effects and low rates of COVID-19 transmission rates from mother to baby.

A small study is reporting very few adverse effects and low rates of COVID-19 transmission rates from mothers to newborns. Investigators from the University of California San Francisco looked at adverse outcomes, including preterm birth, NICU admission, and respiratory disease, and found they did not differ between those born to mothers testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 and those babies born to mothers testing negative.

In addition, no pneumonia or lower respiratory tract infections were diagnosed in the newborns up through eight weeks of age.

The study looked at 263 infants total with 179 testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 and 84 negative. Of the 263 infants, 44 were admitted to a NICU but no pneumonia or lower respiratory tract infections were reported during the study. Among the 56 infants assessed for upper respiratory infection, it was reported in two infants with COVID-positive mothers, and in one with a COVID-negative mother.

The babies are doing well, and that's wonderful," lead author Valerie J. Flaherman, MD, MPH, associate professor of pediatrics and of epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF, said. "When coronavirus first hit, there were so many strange and unfortunate issues tied to it, but there was almost no information on how COVID-19 impacts pregnant women and their newborns. We didn't know what to expect for the babies, so this is good new

The findings will be published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

In terms of transmission, in the babies born to mothers who tested positive, the estimated incidence of a positive infant SARS-CoV-2 test was low at 1.1%. And COVID did not appear to impact those infants, the authors said.

The investigators did caution more needs to be studied before making more comprehensive conclusions.

"Overall, the initial findings regarding infant health are reassuring, but it's important to note that the majority of these births were from third trimester infections," said senior author Stephanie L. Gaw, MD, PhD, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at UCSF. "The outcomes from our complete cohort will give the full picture of risks throughout pregnancy."