Too early to make conclusions about mother-to-child coronavirus infection, say experts

Cai Wenjun
There is still not enough evidence to suggest that the novel coronavirus can be transmitted between women and fetuses, according to a lead maternity expert.
Cai Wenjun

The transmission of coronavirus between pregnant women and their fetuses still requires more scientific research, local maternity experts said.

“Mother-to-infant infection refers to pathogen transfers from a pregnant woman through placenta, birth canal or breastfeeding to her child. Such infections are mainly viral, such as with the HIV virus,” said Huang Hefeng, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and president of the Shanghai International Peace Maternity and Child Health Hospital. “Among any viral infection, the first 13 weeks of pregnancy are the most important period as infection during this time is likely to impact the normal development of fetal organs.”

“Though there are reports about newborns testing positive for coronavirus in Wuhan recently, we need more clinical evidences to confirm that infection during pregnancy can cause fetal deformity or other risks,” she said. “The current evidence can’t prove or explain whether coronavirus can be spread through placenta. Research targeting some cases in late pregnancy didn’t find the virus in placenta, amniotic fluid or umbilical blood. Checks on placenta and umbilical blood from the newborn baby, who was confirmed with infection 30 hours after delivery, were negative. So there is not enough evidence to say the coronavirus can be passed from mother to child. Similar research on SARS also didn’t support such conclusions.”

Experts suggest individualized diagnosis and treatment for coronavirus-infected women who are in the early stages of pregnancy.

They also urged proper use of medicines to reduce damage to the fetus and enhance blood oxygen monitoring to infected pregnant women for early intervention and treatment.

“For pregnant women in serious condition, pregnancy termination can be suggested after sound consideration and discussion,” Huang said.

Nutrition and psychological support are also important, while medical staff must inform pregnant women beforehand about the risks of certain special medicines, experts say.

Too early to make conclusions about mother-to-child coronavirus infection, say experts
Ti Gong

Dr Huang Hefeng (second from right) 

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