Can coronavirus be transmitted from pregnant women to baby?

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Anybody can be infected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) disease. But then, what happens to pregnant women infected with the virus, Can they transmit it to their neonate?

A research conducted by Chinese scientists discovered that pregnant women can infect their babies with the virus. The researchers examined 33 babies born to mothers with coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Four out of the 33 babies were reported to have been birthed with the virus. The radiographic findings however were nonspecific. The researchers also discovered that the most common symptoms in these infected babies “was shortness of breath”. No death reported. An infected pregnant woman in a Paris hospital was reported by New York Times to have given birth to a baby who tested positive for the virus. According to Dr Daniele De Luca who led the research team in the Paris hospital, the virus must have been transmitted through the placenta of the 23-year-old mother. The baby at the time of the report has, however, “very much improved, almost clinically normal,”. Meanwhile, research by scientists at Wayne State University, Detroit, United States suggested the possible reason why neonates (babies) are rarely infected with the virus. According to the study, “Placenta lacks major molecules used by SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19) to cause infection”.

The researchers, led by Roberto Romero, M.D., chief of the Perinatology Research Branch at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), found that the placenta contains molecules that previous studies have suggested as potential routes for COVID-19 infection. In spite of this, it was noted that “there is little evidence showing that infected macrophages could spread the virus to the placenta, membranes, and fetus (babies) in normal pregnancy.” On the other hand, the molecules of the placenta were discovered to be readily receptive to infections like the Zika virus and cytomegalovirus. People infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV) body retain the virus for life. It can cause a weakened immune system and might not pose any problem for healthy people.