- The researchers observed antibodies in the umbilical cords of several of them as well as in milk samples.
- They identified a specific inflammatory response to Covid-19 in the blood plasma of the placenta and the umbilical cord of these expectant mothers.
- Other research is underway to assess the risks and consequences on newborns and during the different stages of pregnancy.
The question of the transmission of Covid-19 to children is a real headache for researchers. Mid-March, the British newspaper The Sun reported the case of a newborn with the virus. At the same time, in China, infants of four pregnant women with Covid-19 tested negative. In early April, a study published in Jama Pediatrics suggested that the transmission in utero virus is possible.
Too early to assess risk
This Thursday, July 9, a new study presented during the 23e international AIDS conference, led by Italian researchers, brings “solid evidence”On the possibility that a Covid-19 positive mother could transmit the virus to her child. The researchers studied 31 pregnant women, in their third trimester, who were hospitalized for virus infection. They found traces of the virus in the placenta, the umbilical cord, the vagina of one of them, and in breast milk. They also identified antibodies in the umbilical cords of several of them as well as in milk samples, and observed an inflammatory response specific to Covid-19 in the blood plasma of the placenta and the umbilical cord of these future mothers.
These observations prompted the researchers to “strongly suggest”That mother-to-child virus transmission is possible. “Given the number of people infected worldwide, the number of women likely to be affected by this phenomenon could be potentially very high”Says Claudio Fenizia, researcher at the University of Milan and lead author of the study, at AFP. However, none of the babies born during the study tested positive. “Although the transmission in utero seems possible, it is too early to clearly assess the risk and potential consequences”, Tempers the researcher.
WHO advises to continue breastfeeding despite infection
More research is underway to obtain more information, particularly in the early stages of pregnancy. “Our study aims to raise awareness and invite the scientific community to consider pregnancy in HIV-positive women as an urgent subject to further characterize and dissect, launched Professor Fenizia. I believe that promoting prevention is the surest advice we could possibly give to these patients right now.”
Despite these precautionary warnings, the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised women infected with Covid-19 not to stop breastfeeding. “We know children are at relatively low risk for Covid-19, but are at high risk for many other diseases and conditions that breastfeeding prevents”Said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.