In the United States, a girl born prematurely tested positive for COVID-19. Her mother had it. Researchers say this is evidence of the possibility of intrauterine transmission.
Several babies were born worldwide with COVID-19. The case of a premature baby born in Texas at 34 weeks is a striking case for American researchers. In their opinion, it provides evidence that intrauterine transmission of the virus is possible. They published the study on this case in The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.
An analysis of the placenta
“Our study is the first to document intrauterine transmission of infection during pregnancy based on immunohistochemical and ultrastructural evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in fetal placental cells,” said Amanda S. Evans, co-author of the study. The baby’s mother tested positive for COVID-19 when she gave birth on the 34th week after a premature membrane rupture. At birth, the baby looked healthy with normal breathing. On the second day, the girl developed a fever and then respiratory difficulties. “It was not possible that shortness of breath was related to the premature birth because it only started on the second day,” the researchers said.
The tests for SARS-Cov-2 were performed 24 hours and 48 hours after birth: both were positive. 14 days later, the child was still positive for the virus. The baby received oxygen but did not need mechanical ventilation. 21 days after delivery, the mother and child were able to return home.
Protect yourself against the virus
The scientific team analyzed the placenta: traces of SARS-Cov-2 and a protein associated with the virus were detected. In their opinion, this confirms that the contamination came from the uterus and not during or after delivery. “Intrauterine transmission of SARS-Cov-2 appears to be rare,” added the researchers. “We want to be very careful in interpreting these results, but now it is even more important for pregnant women to protect themselves from COVID-19.
A case in Peru in April
Last April, a baby contaminated with SARS-Cov-2 was born in Peru. According to the Peruvian health authorities, the virus was also transmitted through the placenta. If there are several cases of contamination of the baby through the uterus, the World Health Organization does not comment on this issue. On its website, it says: “We still do not know if a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can transmit the virus to the unborn child during pregnancy or to the baby during delivery. To date, the virus has not been found in amniotic fluid or breast milk samples”.