There is currently no evidence that the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) causes severe adverse outcomes in neonates or that it can pass to the child while in the womb, according to a small observational study of women from Wuhan, China, who were in the third trimester of pregnancy and had pneumonia caused by COVID-19.
In the study, published in The Lancet , there were two cases of fetal distress, but all nine pregnancies resulted in livebirths. The study also finds that symptoms from COVID-19 infection in pregnant women were similar to those reported in non-pregnant adults, and no women in the study developed severe pneumonia or died.
The authors of the new study caution that their findings are based on a limited number of cases, over a short period of time, and only included women who were late in their pregnancy and gave birth by cesarean section. The effects of mothers being infected with the virus during the first or second trimester of pregnancy and the subsequent outcomes for their offspring remain unclear, as well as whether the virus can be passed from mother to child during vaginal birth.
The new study comes after the news of a newborn (born to a mother infected with COVID-19) testing positive for COVID-19 infection within 36 hours of birth, which prompted questions about whether the virus could be contracted in the womb.
Talking about this case, lead author of the study Professor Yuanzhen Zhang, Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, China, says: "It is important to note that many important clinical details of this case are missing, and for this reason, we cannot conclude from this one case whether intrauterine infection is possible. Nonetheless, we should continue to pay special attentions to newborns born to mothers with COVID-19 pneumonia to help prevent infections in this group."
Co-author, Prof Huixia Yang, Peking University First Hospital, China, adds:
Existing studies into the effects of COVID-19 apply to the general population, and there is limited information about the virus in pregnant women. This is important to study because pregnant women can be particularly susceptible to respiratory pathogens and severe pneumonia, because they are immunocompromised and because of pregnancy-related physiological changes which could leave them at higher risk of poor outcomes. Although in our study no patients developed severe pneumonia or died of their infection, we need to continue to study the virus to understand the effects in a larger group of pregnant women."
In the study, the medical records of nine pregnant women who had pneumonia caused by COVID-19 infection were retrospectively reviewed. Infection was lab-confirmed for all women in the study, and the authors studied the nine women's symptoms.
In addition, samples of amniotic fluid, cord blood, neonatal throat swabs and breast milk were taken for six of the nine cases and tested for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Importantly, the samples of amniotic fluid, cord blood, and neonatal throat swabs were collected in the operating room at the time of birth to guarantee that samples were not contaminated and best represented intrauterine conditions. Related Stories
Also in Industry News
How to decide whether or not to start treatment for prostate cancer?
Analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 proteome via visual tools
$65m investment increases British Patient Capital’s exposure to life sciences and health technology