Mom transmitted coronavirus to baby in womb, Dallas physicians say

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A woman in Texas transmitted the new coronavirus to her infant during her pregnancy, physicians report.

Physicians at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas described the case in an article published The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.

A woman, 34 weeks pregnant, came to UT Southwestern's teaching facility, Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, with signs of premature labor. She also had a fever and diarrhea, and she tested positive for COVID-19. Within five days of her hospitalization, she gave birth to a baby girl in early May. The newborn was admitted to neonatal intensive care unit as she was born prematurely.

After 24 hours, the infant developed a fever that spiked. She also showed signs of respiratory distress, including lower levels of oxygen in her blood. She was tested for COVID-19 24 and 48 hours after birth. Both tests came back positive.

"At that time, the knowledge we had was that transmission doesn't occur in utero, so we really weren't expecting that at all," said Julide Sisman, MD, first author of the article and an associate professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern.

UT Southwestern researchers examined the mother's placenta to pinpoint how the virus was transmitted to the infant. They discovered evidence of the novel coronavirus in the placenta.

"Especially with the rising prevalence of the virus here in Texas, it's very important to bring to the forefront this finding that mothers and infants can be affected by COVID-19, transmission can occur during pregnancy, and pregnant mothers need to protect themselves," saidAmanda Evans, MD, senior author of the article and an assistant professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern.

Both the mother and infant survived and fully recovered. They were released from the hospital within a few weeks.

The physicians said that more research is required to understand how COVID-19 affects mothers and their infants.



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