One of the main concerns of pregnant women when the pandemic broke out was the risk of transmitting the virus to the baby through the placenta, which is known as vertical infection. The various studies carried out over these two years have shown that it was unlikely and now a review of 472 studies confirms that the transmission of Covid to the baby is rare .
The research, published in The BMJ , concludes that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her baby before, during and after delivery, but such cases are “rare”. Fewer than 2 percent of babies born to women infected with the virus also test positive, the data showed.
“It is possible that the virus spreads from mother to baby while in the womb, during labor and after delivery,” study co-author Dr. Shakila Thangaratinam said in a news release.
“However, parents and health professionals can be assured that only a very small proportion of babies born to mothers [with the virus] test positive,” said Thangaratinam, a professor of maternal and perinatal health at the University of Birmingham. In England.
Data from 14,271 infants born to mothers with SARS-CoV-2 infection from studies conducted in Europe, Central Asia, and North America were analyzed. Of them, 1.8 percent also tested positive in the PCR test . This figure dropped to just 1% when testing was limited to babies exposed to the virus before or during birth.
Of 592 positive infants with data on time of exposure and type and timing of testing, 448 infants were exposed in utero, 18 during delivery, and 70 in the early postnatal period.
After excluding 56 infants in whom maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection was diagnosed late (>2 days after birth), 14 of the 536 infants were classified as having confirmed infection and 74 as suspected infection.
Of 800 babies with positive results, 20 were stillbirths, 23 were neonatal deaths (within the first 28 days of life), and eight were early pregnancy losses.
For their part, they found that babies seemed more likely to test positive for COVID-19 if their mothers had a severe COVID-19 infection, were admitted to an intensive care unit , developed an infection, or died soon after birth. Birth.
It is important to note that positivity rates varied between regions: from 0.1% in studies from North America to 5.7% in studies from Latin America and the Caribbean.
Maintain contact after birth
Recommendations from the World Health Organization also suggest that, given the low risk of transmission, the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any concerns about transmission of Covid-19 to newborns.
“Mothers should also be reassured about the low risk of viral transmission through vaginal delivery, skin-to-skin contact , and breastfeeding, all of which should be encouraged,” the researchers write.