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Mothers exposed to COVID-19 during pregnancy are unlikely to transmit the infection to their newborns, according to data from more than 2,000 women.
“Uncertainty at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic led to several recommendations for postnatal care for infants exposed to SARS-CoV-2 in the womb,” said Margaret H. Kyle of Columbia University. New York, and colleagues.
Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center, an early epicenter of the pandemic, allowed for accommodation and encouraged direct breastfeeding among infected mothers and their newborns while adopting extensive safety measures, the researchers said.
In a study presented at the virtual meeting of the Academic Societies of Pediatrics (poster 141), the researchers conducted a retrospective review of all newborns born at the medical center from March 22, 2020 to August 7, 2020. The study was part of According to researchers, the COBO-19 Mother Baby Outcomes (COMBO) initiative underway at Columbia University to “describe the health and well-being of mother-infant days with and without SARS- CoV-2 “.
During the study period, the researchers identified babies of 327 women who tested positive for COVID-19 at any time during pregnancy and compared them with babies of 2,125 unexposed women. Demographics were similar between groups.
Overall, the total positivity of the test was 0.7% for exposed babies; 1.0% tested positive in an initial test and 0% tested positive in the initial test. During the newborn’s hospital stay and a two-week follow-up, 0% of all infants showed clinical evidence of infection.
No significant differences were observed between exposed and non-exposed infants in the included clinical outcomes gestational age, mode of delivery, Apgar score of 5 minutes, heart rate, respiratory rate or temperature. Although more babies of mothers exposed to COVID-19 compared to non-exposed mothers had a visit to the emergency department during the first 14 days of life (6% vs. 3%, Pg =, 002), none of the infants were diagnosed with COVID-19 during these visits. Cough, fever, congestion or bilirubin were more frequent reasons for emergency department visits in exposed infants compared to non-exposed infants, but these differences were not significant.
The results of the study were limited by several factors, including retrospective design and the follow-up period limited to the first two weeks of life, the researchers noted. In addition, perinatal transmission rates were only available for the 202 babies who were followed into the hospital system, they said. However, the results suggest that the risk of vertical transmission of COVID-19 from mother to newborn remains low, even when mothers are breastfeeding and infants are housed, they concluded.
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The study is important because of the value of the mother-baby relationship, said Karalyn Kinsella, MD, a pediatrician in Cheshire, Connecticut, in an interview. “We know that the relationship between mother and child and breastfeeding are extremely important during the first days of life,” she said. “Initially, COVID-positive mothers separated from their babies during this important time.” Kinsella said she was not surprised by the study’s findings, as they reflect other research that newborns have not been infected with COVID-19 from their mothers.
Consequently, the message to take home is that newborns can stay with their mothers in the hospital and have a low risk of COVID-19 regardless of the mother’s exposure history, she said. Kinsella. Looking to the future, future areas of research could include testing for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in infants, he noted.
The study did not receive external funding. The researchers had no financial conflict to reveal. Kinsella had no disclosure of any financial conflict, but is a member of Pediatric News ’editorial advisory committee.
This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, which is part of the Medscape professional network.