Study has good news for moms with virus
Babies born to mothers infected with the coronavirus generally do well, according to a new UCSF study that examined infants during their first eight weeks of life.
The study found “few adverse outcomes” and no reports of pneumonia or lower respiratory tract infection through the first eight weeks of age for babies born to women with COVID19, UCSF officials said in a statement on Tuesday. The study analyzed 263 infants born to 179 mothers who tested positive for COVID19 and 84 mothers who tested negative, officials said. The babies were born at more than 100 hospitals across the country.
“Among 263 infants in the study, adverse outcomes — including preterm birth, NICU admission and respiratory disease — did not differ between those born to mothers testing positive for SARSCoV2 and those born to mothers testing negative,” UCSF officials said.
Researchers did find a higher rate of babies admitted into the neonatal intensive care unit if the mothers had COVID19 up to two weeks before they gave birth, UCSF officials said. Of the 263 infants, 44 were were admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit, officials said, “but no pneumonia or lower respiratory tract infections were reported during the study.”
“Among the 56 infants assessed for upper respiratory infection, it was reported in two infants with COVIDpositive mothers, and in one with a COVIDnegative mother,” UCSF officials said.
Valerie J. Flaherman, the lead author of the study and a UCSF associate professor of pediatrics and epidemiology and biostatistics, said researchers “didn’t know what to expect for the babies, so this is good news.”
“When coronavirus first hit, there were so many strange and unfortunate issues tied to it, but there was almost no information on how COVID19 impacts pregnant women and their newborns,” Flaherman said.
Officials said the study is part of a national project led by UCSF researchers called Pregnancy Coronavirus Outcomes Registry, or PRIORITY. The project was launched in March and aims to understand how the coronavirus affects “pregnant and postpartum women and their infants,” UCSF officials said.
Stephanie L. Gaw, a senior author of the study and UCSF assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, said in a statement that the study results are “reassuring” but that “it’s important to note that the majority of these births were from third trimester infections.”
Two babies born to mothers who tested positive in their third trimester had birth defects, “each with multiple congenital anomalies reported (one had cardiac, vertebral, renal and pulmonary anomalies, while the other had facial, genital, renal, brain and cardiac anomalies),” UCSF officials said, and “one mother who tested negative reported an infant with gastrointestinal, renal and cardiac anomalies.”
Officials also noted that among infants born to mothers who tested positive for COVID19, the “estimated incidence of a positive infant SARSCoV2 test was low at 1.1 percent” and the coronavirus “did not appear to impact those infants.”
UCSF officials said the study marks the first report in the country analyzing “infant outcomes” through their first eight weeks.
Researchers said the study had limitations, though, referring to how coronavirus tests could have been based on falsepositive or falsenegative results, and noted how Black and Latina mothers were “underrepresented” in the study.
The PRIORITY study in May launched a new project to “increase enrollment of underrepresented groups,” officials said.