Can a Pregnant Women Transmit Coronavirus to her Unborn Baby?

Considering the latest coronavirus outbreak, one popular question that is circulating these days is; whether or not a pregnant woman tested positive with coronavirus can transmit it to her unborn baby. Recently, a preliminary study has given this good news that pregnant women infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) do not pass the infection to their unborn child.

To study the coronavirus spread in pregnancy, the researchers examined a small number of pregnant women who were in their third trimester and gave birth to a child through C-section.  All the women have age between 26 to 40 and were tested late in January when this outbreak appeared in Wuhan. Complete results of this study are published in the journal Lancet”.

Yuanzhen Zhang who is a professor of Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in China said that special attention should be paid to the newborn children whose mother got infected with COVID-19, the new name given to the virus for its disease.

The study was started just after the news that a newborn baby showed a positive test for coronavirus (nCoV) within the 36 hours of his birth. At that time still, it was not clear that whether the baby got this infection from the mother during pregnancy or the infant may catch the virus just after the birth due to having close contact with infected people.

Also read- World Health Organization Says Coronavirus is NOT a Pandemic

Many infections pass from mother to child during the pregnancy through the placenta. But how it happened is not still understood. Several pathogens may cross the placental barrier and cause infection in the infant during pregnancy.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say that if a woman is positive for HIV then the newborn may get the infection through contact with body fluids or blood during the delivery. According to Guardian, viral infections can easily be transmitted to the child from the mother via placental blood barrier or bodily fluids, but respiratory viruses do not pass to the next generation through this mode of transmission.

During the study, researchers observed nine women who were 36 to 39 weeks pregnant and having the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. All these women were admitted to the hospital for delivery in Wuhan, China.

During the C-section of the pregnant women, researchers took samples of umbilical cord blood, amniotic fluid, and breast milk. Neonatal throat samples were also collected for testing. Doctors collect the sample in the operating room during the time of birth so that they would show the best womb conditions.

As a result of infection, no women developed any severe form of pneumonia and all the newborn baby survived without having a complication.  Samples of the throat, amniotic fluid, breast milk, and cord blood show negative tests for COVID-19.

Also read- First Death by Coronavirus in the USA

 According to the authors, the findings of this small study suggest that in the women who have got infected with COVID-19    do not pass the virus to the child during the pregnancy.

But there are many other limitations of the study and more research is needed for analyzing the women in the different trimesters of the pregnancy. This study only observed the women who gave birth through C-section, so scientists must analyze those women who give birth through the vaginal opening.

Authors concluded by saying that more studies are required in future that ensure the necessary safety measures and healthy conditions for both mother and children in the environment that exposed to new coronavirus


Areeba Hussain

The author is a fulltime medical and healthcare writer. She graduated in Medical Microbiology and Immunology with distinction. Her areas of prime interest are medicine, medical technology, disease awareness, and research analysis. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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