Research Shows Possibility of Mother-to-Child Transmission of COVID-19

Witness Media Limited

Coronavirus disease (COVID -19) has multiple possible routes of transmission including from mother to the baby while still in the womb, researchers have established.

According to a study whose findings were published by the global science journal (JAMA), researchers at Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, China, say they followed a positive mother in her last trimester of pregnancy since January and that at the time of delivery, the neonate born to this mother had elevated antibody levels and abnormal cytokine test (Immune system chemical) results, two hours after birth.

The elevated antibody levels suggest that the neonate was infected in the uterus, according to the publication where the researchers note that at the time of delivery through Caesarian section, the mother wore protective gear including an N95 mask and did not hold the baby girl as it is normally.

“Antibodies are not transferred to the fetus via the placenta. The infant potentially could have been exposed for 23 days from the time of the mother’s diagnosis of COVID-19 to delivery. The laboratory results displaying inflammation and liver injury indirectly support the possibility of vertical transmission”, the statement shared this morning reads.

Although the baby showed no signs, tests done two hours after delivery showed the baby had elevated levels of two types of antibodies against COVID -19, one of which can pass from mother to child during pregnancy, according to the discussion part of the publication.

In a separate study, whose results were also published yesterday in the same journal, researchers from Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University analyzed blood samples from six newborns and results were similar to those of the Renmin hospital baby.

However, experts say the evidence in these cases is still inconclusive and does not prove the new coronavirus can pass from mother to child during pregnancy. To be able to get conclusive results they suggest a large scale clinical trial. 

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