Moms likely are able pass coronavirus to fetuses, studies suggest

Three new studies suggest that pregnant women may pass along the new coronavirus to their fetuses, according to STAT.

Two of the scientific reports were published March 26 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers found that some infants born to a small cohort of pregnant women with COVID-19 in China had an antibody specific to COVID-19 that is not normally passed from mother to fetus.

The third study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, studied 33 babies born to Chinese women with COVID-19. Three of the babies tested positive for COVID-19. But the testing was conducted two days after birth, so it is not clear if the infection was transmitted inside the womb.

The infants studied survived.

"I do think all these pieces taken together would lead you toward saying that it looks like vertical transmission is possible," Sonja A. Rasmussen, MD, a pediatrician and a professor at Gainesville-based University of Florida, told STAT. Vertical transmission is the passage of a pathogen from a mother to an infants either right before or after birth.

But an editorial published in JAMA says not to place too much stock in the findings until more studies are conducted.

"Is it possible that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted in utero? Yes, especially because virus nucleic acid has been detected in blood samples," the authors wrote. "Is it also possible that these results are erroneous? Absolutely."

The authors said that more definitive evidence is needed before these "provocative findings" can be used to "counsel pregnant women that their fetuses are at risk" from the virus.

More articles on infection control:
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