The Lancet: New Coronavirus May Not Infect the Next Generation during Pregnancy

BEIJING, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) — People still don’t fully understand the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV), after questions about whether a pregnant woman with the new coronavirus would transmit the virus to a newborn baby, a preliminary study suggests that the new coronavirus may not infect the next generation during pregnancy, according to the U.S. Life Science website. The study was published in the February 12 issue of the Lancet.

The Lancet: New Coronavirus May Not Infect the Next Generation during Pregnancy

However, the study was small and only tested pregnant women involved in late pregnancy by caesarean section. More research is needed to confirm the findings and to see if it applies to other groups of pregnant women.

‘We should continue to pay attention to the health status of babies born to pregnant women infected with the new coronavirus,’ said the study’s first author, Professor Zhang Yuanzhen of Wuhan University’s Zhongnan Hospital, in a statement. Previously, a baby tested positive for 2019-nCoV within 36 hours of birth, but in that case it was not clear whether the virus had actually spread in the womb, and the baby may have been infected with the virus through close contact after birth.

Some infections can spread from the mother’s body to the child during pregnancy, although it is not clear how the process occurs. Pathogens may be transmitted to the child through the placenta during pregnancy or through contact with body fluids during childbirth. For example, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that if a pregnant woman is infected with HIV, the baby may enter the placenta through the mother’s blood or contact the mother’s blood during childbirth to cause a viral infection. But this form of transmission is not common, especially respiratory viruses.

In the new study, researchers analyzed the health status of nine pregnant women and found that they were infected with the new coronavirus at 36-39 weeks of pregnancy and were hospitalized. When a pregnant woman gives birth by caesarean section, the doctor collects samples of amniotic fluid, cord blood and breast milk, as well as a sample of the baby’s throat. All samples were taken in the operating room, so they best represent the condition in the womb.

The results showed that despite the serious illness of pregnant women with the new coronavirus infection, the babies they gave birth to were still very healthy and, more importantly, none of the samples from amniotic fluid, cord blood, breast milk or the baby’s throat secretion cotton swab tested positive.

“The results of this small number of cases show that there is no conclusive evidence that female carriers of the new coronavirus in the late stages of pregnancy will have intrauterine infections,” Zhang said. More research and analysis is needed for different pregnancies (e.g. first and second stages of pregnancy) and for pregnant women who give birth, while studies of pregnant women and infants infected with the new coronavirus will be necessary to determine the safety and health of mother and baby exposure to the new coronavirus.