New Delhi: Pregnant women suffering from coronavirus face no risk of transmitting the infection to the foetus, a Chinese study has claimed.
The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics, was conducted by researchers from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan. It is the second in a month to confirm that the virus does not pass on to infants from pregnant women.
Located in China’s Hubei province, Wuhan is believed to be the epicentre of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has affected over 1 lakh people worldwide and killed more than 5,000.
The subjects of the study were four COVID-19 patients who gave birth at Wuhan’s Union Hospital, which falls within the university.
All of the infants were initially isolated in neonatal intensive care units and fed formula. None of the infants developed any serious symptoms associated with COVID-19 such as fever or cough.
Three of the four tested negative for infection following a throat swab, while the fourth child’s mother declined permission for the test.
According to the report, one infant experienced minor breathing issues for three days, while two others developed rashes that eventually disappeared on their own.
“We are not sure the rash was due to the mother’s COVID-19 infection,” researcher Yalan Liu of Huazhong University of Science and Technology said in a statement accompanying the study.
All four infants remain healthy, and their mothers also fully recovered, according to the team.
‘More research needed’
A study by Chinese and American researchers, including from Wuhan University, that was published last week in The Lancet came to the same conclusion.
The study was conducted on nine pregnant women who delivered their infants through C-Section. Three of the women in the new study also underwent C-sections.
“To avoid infections caused by perinatal and postnatal transmission, our obstetricians think that C-section may be safer,” said Liu, adding that further studies were required to determine whether vaginal delivery was safe for COVID-19 patients.
In previous coronavirus outbreaks like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), while there was no evidence of viral transmission from mother to child, the infections were linked with “critical maternal illness, spontaneous abortion, or even maternal death”, Liu said.
Globally, an estimated 3.4 per cent of reported COVID-19 patients have died, according to latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO). In comparison, seasonal flu kills far fewer than 1 per cent of those infected. However, COVID-19 does not appear to spread as easily as influenza.
The researchers behind the new study called for further investigations into other aspects of potential COVID-19 infection in newborns and children. The team is collecting additional samples from the three newborns tested to carry out more tests.