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Unborn baby contracted coronavirus from infected mom, study says

Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 8:57 AM CDT
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(CNN) - Researchers said a pregnant woman passed the coronavirus on to her unborn child.

The woman was infected during the last trimester of pregnancy, and the virus did affect the baby.

At the height of the pandemic in France late March, dozens of pregnant mothers presenting severe coronavirus symptoms were admitted to the Hôpital Antoine-Béclère.

In a research paper recently published in the medical journal Nature, Dr. Daniele de Luca, who specializes in critical care for newborns at the hospital outside Paris, said it’s now confirmed that one of the mothers transmitted the virus to her unborn child.

“This is the reality: The virus can pass through the placenta to the baby. In the beginning we thought, ‘Well, this is never going to happen, this is not true.’ That’s the reality and that’s the bad news.” he said.

The doctor said the virus was present in the mother’s blood, which is rare, and was then transmitted through the placenta. and when the baby boy was delivered, he tested positive for the virus.

There were already strong suspicions of what is called neonatal transmission, but de Luca said his study confirms it. The hospital carried out half a dozen tests on the baby boy: swabs, blood test, tests of the placenta, the core, the amniotic fluid, all within an hour of the birth – all confirming that the baby was indeed infected before he even came into this world.

Within 24 hours, the newborn presented severe neurological complications: cerebral inflammation and irregular muscle movements.

“I cannot deny that in the beginning we were very worried,” de Luca said. “They were severe symptoms. So we were worried, and then as I told you, they improved pretty steadily. We were happy.”

The virus left no lasting damage and the baby was discharged from the hospital less than three weeks later.

“When it happens, well, as you see the baby is most likely going to recover pretty soon alone.” de Luca said.

According to the doctor, there is now growing evidence that newborns are resistant to COVID-19, and the best news of all, he said, neonatal transmission of the virus remains extremely rare.

Copyright 2020 CNN. All rights reserved.

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