Infected mothers can pass the new coronavirus to their newborns, a new small study finds.
Researchers from China examined 33 newborn babies whose mothers had COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, during pregnancy.
Nearly 10 percent of babies – three of them – were found to have the virus, including one that required mechanical ventilation.
Worldwide, more than 463,000 people are infected – including at least 69,000 in the US – and 21,100 people have died.
Researchers studied 33 babies born to women in Wuhan – where the new coronavirus originated – who had the virus during pregnancy. Pictured: Chinese baby with the virus the mother had
Of those newborns, only three, about 10 percent, had COVID-19. Pictured: An employee nurses a baby with new coronavirus at Wuhan Children’s Hospital, March 6
One of the premature babies had serious complications and needed mechanical ventilation and antibiotics. Pictured: Medical personnel test people for coronavirus in the parking lot outside Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, March 25
For the study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, the team examined the medical records of 33 newborns born to women with COVID-19.
All women were recruited from Wuhan Children’s Hospital in Wuhan, where the virus is thought to have originated.
Of the 33 babies, three – all men born by Caesarean section – were diagnosed with the virus.
All three babies had pneumonia, a major complication of COVID-19. However, only two had a fever and the other had shortness of breath and respiratory distress syndrome.
The first baby was born after a 40-week gestation and started experiencing lethargy and fever on day two.
After a chest scan showed signs of pneumonia, he tested positive for the virus. However, on day six, he was negative.
The second baby, born after a 40-week, 4-day pregnancy, similarly developed listlessness, fever, and vomiting shortly after birth.
He tested positive for COVID-19 on day 2 and negative on day 6.
The third child, born prematurely after 31 weeks and two days of gestation, had more health problems than the other two.
He needed mechanical ventilation and antibiotics after contracting sepsis, a life-threatening condition in which the immune system attacks itself.
On day seven, he tested negative.
“Consistent with previous studies, the clinical symptoms of 33 newborns with or at risk of COVID-19 were mild and the results were favorable,” the authors wrote.
She added that of the three babies born with COVID-19, the most seriously ill baby may have been “symptomatic of prematurity, choking and sepsis” rather than viral infection.
The team says that because doctors implemented strict infection control and prevention procedures during labor, it’s likely that mom passed the virus on to their babies in the womb or during labor.
“It is critical to screen pregnant women and implement strict measures for infection control, quarantine of infected mothers, and careful monitoring of newborns at risk for COVID-19,” the researchers write.
The study comes just days after it was confirmed that a three-week-old baby in New York was the youngest patient diagnosed with coronavirus in the US.
The baby was treated for several days at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, on Long Island, but has since been released and is now recovering at home.