First confirmed case of unborn baby contracting Covid-19 from mother
Tuesday, 14 July 2020
A French study is the first to confirm the transmission of Covid-19 from a sick mother to her unborn baby boy. The virus was transferred via the placenta and infected the child before birth, according to findings.
As a result, the baby suffered from inflammation of the brain in the days following his birth. Doctors report that since then, he has recovered well.
The recorded case is part of a larger French study that follows babies who are suspected to have contracted the virus in the womb. The study was published in Nature Communications this morning. Before its publication, it was unclear whether infected newborn babies had contracted the virus inside or outside of the womb, after birth.
“Unfortunately there is no doubt about the transmission in this case,” the medical director for child care at the Antoine Béclère hospital in Paris, Daniele De Luca, told The Guardian.
“Clinicians must be aware that this may happen. It’s not common, that’s for sure, but it may happen and it must be considered in the clinical workout.”
The baby boy was born to a 23-year-old mother, who was hospitalised in March and tested positive for Covid-19 in the third trimester of her pregnancy. After doctors recorded distressing signals from the baby at the hospital, an emergency caesarean was performed and the newborn was placed in isolation.
Blood samples were taken from mother and child, the placenta and the umbilical cord, in addition to one sample taken from the amniotic fluid that protects the foetus. The samples showed that the baby had been infected with Covid-19 after the virus had been transferred from the mother’s blood into the womb, and into the unborn child.
“There have been some suspected cases, but they remain suspected because nobody had the opportunity to test all of this and check the pathology of the placenta,” De Luca added.
Traces of the virus were found mostly in the placenta, as it carries some of the same receptors that Covid-19 uses to infect the lungs.