Mother to baby transmission of Covid-19 infection before birth possible: Study

Prenatal Covid transmission is possible (Reuters Image)

As the Covid-19 experts apprehend the third wave might hit the children, a study claims that the disease can be transmitted from an infected mother to a baby during the perinatal period. The study published in the journal of Indian Pediatrics also found morbidity in infants infected before birth and a significant correlation with premature deaths. Prenatal Covid can also increase the risk of premature labor among women, the study further suggests.

Moreover, SARS-CoV-2 newborns are prone to having respiratory symptoms, neonatal morbidities and are symptomatic with a high risk of having breathing problems, but no significant mortality was noticed. Perinatal transmission is newborn testing positive in the RT-PCR test, 72 hours after birth, and has got the infections transmitted in the uterus during birth.


The study was conducted using collected data of new-borns from 20 hospitals across India voluntarily enrolled in the National Neonatology Forum (NNF) of India covid-19 registry and started in April 2020. Hospitals that participated were Arpan Newborn Care Centre in Ahmedabad and Shree Navajivan Children Hospital in Rajkot.

The study group included cases in which a bay was not born within premises of a testing centre (and within premises of treating centre. The web-based Covid registry received a total of 1,733 entries, out of which 1,711 mother and their newborns were studied. 8 per cent neonates tested positive in 72 hours and 1.5 per cent after 72 hours indicating horizontal transmission.

According to AIIMS New Delhi and Bhubaneshwar who also participated in the study, Covid-19 positive neonates were five times more likely to be symptomatic compared to Covid-19 negative neonates and twice more likely to need resuscitation.

Among the intramural neonates, close to 50 per cent tested positive on the day one of birth and researchers hypothesise that they got the infection either inside the uterus or during birth. However not testing the new-borns on the day of birth is likely to misclassification of the type of infection, the authors noted.

Moreover even with neonates with Covid infection having symptoms, abnormal chest X-ray, resuscitation and respiratory support, a marginally higher chance of infants getting an infection from staying with bother, the researchers found no association with breastfeeding.

One place where the study felt short apart from non-uniformity in age (days/hours after birth) at testing of neonates born to Covid-19 positive mothers is the inability to test for other bodily fluids and parameters to known the source of transmission.

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