Study suggests mother-to-infant COVID-19 transmission is unlikely

A recent retrospective cohort analysis of 101 newborns whose mothers had confirmed or suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection in New York from March 13 to April 24, 2020 found an overall transmission incidence of 2%. The two infants had indeterminate test results suggesting low viral load and neither showed COVID-19 symptoms. One infant retested with a negative result whilst the other infant who did not undergo retesting remained well upon follow-up.

The median material age was 28.5 years and the majority (62%) were Hispanic. 90/101 (90%) women were asymptomatic or had mild illness. Most mothers engaged in breastfeeding (91/101) at least partially and were roomed-in with their newborns (76/101) in the postpartum unit or well-baby nursery with appropriate precautions.

Infants with mothers who had severe or critical illness were more likely to be born around one week earlier and at increased risk of hyperbilirubinea requiring phototherapy compared to those born to mothers with asymptomatic or mild COVID-19.

Why it matters: The study findings suggest that the risk of perinatal COVID-19 transmission from infected mothers to newborns is low despite rooming-in and direct breastfeeding. Separating mothers who test positive for SARS-CoV-2 from their newborns may not be necessary as long as precautionary measures are in place.

Source: JAMA Pediatrics