Antibodies in Infants Born to Mothers With COVID-19 Pneumonia

A retrospective review of records and results for 6 pregnant women with Covid-19 found SARS-CoV-19 was not detected by PCR in any of the newborns; however all six had antibodies detected in their serum, including two with raised IgM (not usually transferred mother to foetus).

SPS commentary:

The authors note that abnormal placental pathology was seen in 2 women with SARS in another study, and it is not known if the placentas of the women in the current study were damaged or abnormal. Alternatively, IgM could have been produced by the infant if the virus crossed the placenta. The study is limited by its size and the lack of cord blood, amniotic fluid and breast milk analysis; in addition, information on the outcome of the infants was incomplete.

An editorial accompanying this research paper, and another published early online in JAMA, notes that there was no virologic evidence for congenital infection in these cases (negative PCR swab) to support the suggested in utero transmission; “nevertheless the serological data are provocative for a virus that is believed to be spread by respiratory secretions and—given the modelling showing that a significant percentage of the world’s population, many of them pregnant women, will be infected over the next weeks or months—it is one that deserves careful consideration.” Currently the data are not conclusive and additional research is required to confirm this preliminary observation.


Journal of the American Medical Association

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