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Study suggests infected pregnant women can pass coronavirus onto babies

The study looked at 33 pregnant women in China. Three of whom gave birth to babies with the virus. All of them recovered.

One of the biggest questions about the coronavirus is whether or not a pregnant woman who is infected with the virus pass it to their babies.

Dr. Tiffany Wells, a Jacksonville OBGYN says there’s still a lot of uncertainty about how the virus affects fetuses.

Just the other day, Wells made a Facebook post, "about the bad effects of pregnancy." Then she saw a new study a few days later saying, "that the studies differed.”

In a small study published in JAMA Pediatrics, it showed that out of 33 women in China who were confirmed to have COVID-19 while pregnant, three of the babies were born with the virus.

“The good news is most of it was mild effects, mild symptoms,” Wells said.

All three babies survived. 

It’s positive news, but the March study gives conflicting evidence about the virus in pregnant women.

“I think the key takeaway is the study did show a different pattern than what we’ve seen otherwise,” Wells said.

It also shows how much is still unknown about the virus during pregnancy.

Other recent studies show no evidence that the virus can be passed from mother to baby.

The Lancet published another small study in February on six women with COVID-19 late in their pregnancies in Wuhan. Results showed no evidence of the virus in the six babies born. 

Wells thinks we’ll be able to get more definitive answers soon if the virus can be transferred in the womb.

“Once we are able to do more of the antibody testing, that’s really where I think some of the information is going to come," Wells said.

What does look clear is the coronavirus doesn’t seem to have the same severe developmental risks in babies as the Zika virus caused in pregnant women.

The coronavirus, “may just be more of a mild illness,” Wells said.

When asked how concerned expectant moms should be about passing the virus on to their unborn baby, Wells said, “That would be very very low on the list.”

She added the best thing an expectant mother can do is continue to go to your doctor appointments and practice social distancing.

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