Vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus from expecting mothers to foetuses in utero

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Neucrad Health desk July 16, 2020

Expecting mothers across the globe are spending stressful moments nowadays, thanks to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. Scientists are busy studying, the interaction of the virus among pregnant women, and the possibility of vertical transmission. So far, there are three published reports on the effects of the microbes among expecting women. While all the three studies hinted the possibility of transmission of the virus to foetuses in utero, there are conflicting views regarding the appearance of symptoms among newborns. Let us have a look at these reports one-by-one.

What does the first case report suggest about the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus from expecting mothers to foetuses?

On 26th March 2020, a team of physicians and scientists from Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University studies the vertical progression of the SARS-CoV-2 from expecting mothers to their foetuses. They conducted a study on nine pregnant women who got infected with the novel coronavirus and later delivered their babies at the Renmin Hospital. Scientists obtained clinical information regarding the mothers during their gestation, and also conducted chest computed tomography (CT), IgM and IgG antibody tests, biochemical analysis, and real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) on these women for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid [1].

One of the neonates born on 22nd February 2020, at the Renmin Hospital showed an elevated level of IgM antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, thus proving her contact with the virus. Doctors delivered the baby through a caesarean section in a negative-pressure isolation room. The mother even wore an N-95 mask at the time of delivery to prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. She also refrained from physical contact with the baby. Though the newborn weighed 3120 grams and revealed an Apgar score of 9 at 1 minute of birth, she had elevated IgM (11.75 AU/mL) and IgG (69.94 AU/mL) levels. She later got transferred to a children’s hospital for further treatment. The study proved that though neonates can get infected in utero, they mostly remain asymptomatic [1].

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What did the second study reveal about the vertical transmission of the SARS-CoV-2?

The second study also got published on the JAMA Paediatrics on 26th March 2020. In this report, physicians studied the health parameter of six pregnant women who got infected with COVID-19 and admitted at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University. All the six mothers underwent caesarean deliveries during the third trimester of pregnancy at negative pressure isolation rooms. The neonates represented Apgar scores of 8 to 9 at 1-minute of birth and scores of 9 to 10 at 5-minutes of birth. The babies also underwent swab tests and RT-PCR tests. The results came out negative, and all the newborns developed antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2. The study proved that mothers passively transferred antibodies to their foetuses during the end of the second trimester [2].

What did the third report establish regarding the vertical transmission of the SARS-CoV-2?

The third report for the vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2 came out in JAMA Paediatrics on 26th March 2020. Here, researchers studied the health conditions of 33 pregnant women suffering from COVID-19. They delivered their babies through caesarean section at the Wuhan Children’s Hospital. Three children out of the 33 new-borns tested positive for the virus in RT-PCR tests. The first and the second child was born at 40th week of gestation and manifested pneumonia, lethargy and fever on day 2 and 4 of their birth. However, their reports came negative on the 6th day of delivery. The third baby was born at 31st week of pregnancy and experienced neonatal respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia. Treatment through non-invasive ventilation, caffeine, and antibiotics helped to resolve these issues by day 14 of birth. So, in this study, as well, three babies manifested vertical transmission of the SARS-CoV-2. They also showed symptoms of COVID-19 shortly after birth [3].

Finally, we would like to say that vertical transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 is possible. However, expecting mothers should not panic about the situation, but, at the same time, follow social distancing and practise a healthy lifestyle.

References:

1.     Possible Vertical Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 From an Infected Mother to Her Newborn

2.     Antibodies in Infants Born to Mothers With COVID-19 Pneumonia

3.     Neonatal Early-Onset Infection With SARS-CoV-2 in 33 Neonates Born to Mothers With COVID-19 in Wuhan, China

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