Mother to newborn transmission of Covid 19 is rare but the newborns of expectant mothers with the virus are liable to suffer indirectly and have adverse health risks because of worsening maternal illness due to the disease, a study says.
JAMA Network Open published the study done by researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, Brigham and Women’s Hospital , Boston Children’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.
The researchers claimed that their study was the first of its kind that looked into the risk factors for mother to newborn Coronavirus transmission. Corresponding author Asimenia Angelidou a neonatologist at BIDMC, said that they had expected the mode of delivery or degree of maternal illness to increase the risk of newborn infection. However, the author said that they were surprised to find that this was not the case.
The researchers examined 255 neonates delivered between March 1 and July 31, 2020, to mothers with a recent positive Covid 19 test result. They examined babies born at 11 hospitals that represent approximately 50 percent of all births in Massachusetts. The researchers used American Academy of Pediatrics’ National Registry for Surveillance and Epidemiology of Perinatal COVID-19 Infection complemented by a Massachusetts-specific Registry.
The researchers found that only 2.2 percent had positive results out of the 88.2 percent tested. The study found that though infection rates among newborns were relatively low, worsening maternal illness accounted for 73.9 percent of preterm births. Premature birth can often lead to acute and chronic complications, including respiratory distress and developmental disabilities.
Meanwhile senior author Mandy Brown Belfort said that the study found very few babies born to mothers with COVID-19 tested positive. She is the Director of Clinical Research in the Department of Pediatrie Newborn Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Associate Professor of Paris a Harvard Medical School. Belfort said that the adverse health impact of maternal COVID-19 on the new born from pre-delivery, especially prompted by a mother’s worsening illness.
The study also notes that newborns of socially vulnerable mothers were five times more likely to have COVID-19 highlights that health disparities are very complex and extend beyond race, ethnicity and language status. Angelidou, who is also Instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School social vulnerability likely affects health and immunity. Reallocation of resources to socially vulnerable communities could go a long way in decreasing human suffering and economic loss during disease outbreaks.