Despite implementation of strict infection control and prevention procedures in a hospital in Wuhan, China,according to Lingkong Zeng, MD, of the department of neonatology at Wuhan Children’s Hospital, and associates.
Thirty-three neonates born to mothers with COVID-19 were included in the study, published as a research letter in JAMA Pediatrics. Of this group, three neonates (9%) were confirmed to be infected with the novel coronavirus 2019 at 2 and 4 days of life through nasopharyngeal and anal swabs.
Of the three infected neonates, two were born at 40 weeks’ gestation and the third was born at 31 weeks. The two full-term infants had mild symptoms such as lethargy and fever and were negative for the virus at 6 days of life. The preterm infant had somewhat worse symptoms, but the investigators acknowledged that “the most seriously ill neonate may have been symptomatic from prematurity, asphyxia, and sepsis, rather than [the novel coronavirus 2019] infection.” They added that outcomes for all three neonates were favorable, consistent with past research.
“Because strict infection control and prevention procedures were implemented during the delivery, it is likely that the sources of [novel coronavirus 2019] in the neonates’ upper respiratory tracts or anuses were maternal in origin,” Dr. Zeng and associates surmised.
While previous studies have shown no evidence of COVID-19 transmission between mothers and neonates, and all samples, including amniotic fluid, cord blood, and breast milk, were negative for the novel coronavirus 2019, “vertical maternal-fetal transmission cannot be ruled out in the current cohort. Therefore, it is crucial to screen pregnant women and implement strict infection control measures, quarantine of infected mothers, and close monitoring of neonates at risk of COVID-19,” the investigators concluded.
The study authors reported that they had no conflicts of interest.
SOURCE: Zeng L et al. JAMA Pediatrics. 2020 Mar 26. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.0878.