transplacental transmission of coronavirus
Image: The Scientist Magazine

First Case of Baby Contracting Coronavirus from Mother Reported

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, researchers stated that there is a very low chance of a baby contracting the virus from the mother before birth. Now, a new case reported by doctors at the Antoine Béclère Hospital in Paris, France shows that shows the transplacental transmission of the coronavirus from the mother to the baby.

The case, which is explained in detail in the journal Nature Communications, is of a twenty-three years old young woman who was admitted to the aforementioned hospital in Paris during her third trimester of pregnancy. After showing symptoms such as persistent fever and cough, the doctors suspected she had contracted the coronavirus.

Read the report here. 

Therefore, the woman underwent coronavirus testing and it was confirmed that she did have the infection while being in the late stages of her pregnancy. After being hospitalized, the doctors also noted that the woman was having pregnancy complications which led to the doctors performing an emergency cesarean section to avoid further problems.

After the cesarean took place, the newly born baby was admitted to the isolated neonatal intensive care unit for testing and extra care. Doctors then decided to test extract from the baby’s lungs along with blood testing. It was then discovered that the child also had a coronavirus infection.

During the first three days after birth, the baby’s condition remained stable. However, the child became irritable and developed a fever. It also became increasingly difficult to feed the baby.

According to the report on the case, such signs in children and infants are known by researchers as common neurological symptoms of having coronavirus infection. After a short span of time, the baby was able to recover with general care and without any extra medication for the infection.

The researchers state this was the first confirmed case of transplacental transmission of the coronavirus infection in the womb from the mother to the baby. Prior to the study, many doctors had reported coronavirus infection in babies right after birth.

However, in most of such cases, the babies had contracted the virus from an infected person after birth and not in the womb.

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The Professor of Obstetrics at Imperial College London, Prof. Christoph Lees, commented on the report, saying “This is a very detailed and well-characterized case report showing very likely transplacental transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus,”

On the other hand, a number of other health experts disagree. For example, the professor of obstetrics and director of Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre at the University of Manchester,  Prof. Alexander Heazell says that there is still a lack of solid evidence for transplacental transmission of coronavirus.

Prof. Heazell explains that the report merely shows the presence of coronavirus in the outer layer of the placenta and not the inner layer. So, there is proof to show the placenta can be infected but it does not prove that transplacental transmission of coronavirus is possible.

Although the case shows a high possibility of the baby contracting the coronavirus from the mother in the womb, health experts majorly agree that the overall risk still remains low.


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