Doctors in Canada reported a case of a newborn baby likely contracting the coronavirus while in utero, according to the latest issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
A newborn baby born in Toronto is believed to have contracted the coronavirus while in Utero, and Canadian doctors report the mother herself entered the hospital with symptoms of coronavirus.
The 40-year-old mother arrived at the hospital not needing any respiratory support, though the doctors decided her fatigue, temperature and myalgia led to the necessity of a ‘semi-urgent’ c-section at 35-weeks.
The doctors performed the surgery while she was under regional anesthesia to prevent the spread of the virus, and when the baby was born, the amniotic fluid was clear and the baby didn’t need any additional respiratory support. The doctors swabbed the baby with a nasopharyngeal swab when it was born, the day after it was born and then a week after it was born.
Each of the three swabs was positive for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) gene targets. The doctors also tested the neonatal plasma four days after the baby was born and that was positive. A stool sample of the baby tested positive after seven days.
In other cases where babies tested positive for the virus, there was no real way to surmise that the virus had been transmitted in utero. Babies could have contracted it from their mothers via vaginal birth, being held after birth or even through breastmilk, though that’s NOT been proven.
This baby being born via c-section though, suggests that the baby DID contract the virus in utero, as none of those things had yet happened. The mother’s placenta also showed tissue inflammation that was consistent with some sort of primary virus infection.
Proper precautions were taken to avoid the spread of the virus in the room the baby was born in, so there was a low chance the baby contracted it from someone there. The possibility of transamniotic transmission had to be presumed.
Dr. Adi Davidov is an associate chairman of gynecology at Staten Island University Hosptial in New York. In an interview with WebMD, he said that though rare, this case shows that there is a small possibility that COVID could be transmitted in utero.
It’s important to note, though, that the 6.5 pound baby boy did NOT need respiratory help, NOR did he test positive for COVID-19, despite being positive for SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.
The importance is that many doctors, including Dr. Davidov, believe this case is a basis for universal screening of all newborns for COVID-19, despite the fact that the baby did not develop COVID-19, nor did it develop COVID-19 even after a 30-day checkup.
And while that may offer possible protection for caregivers, others worry it may cause posttraumatic stress for both mother and baby, as many hospitals immediately separate babies from mothers for 14 days or more.