TUESDAY, March 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Babies born to mothers with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection have low rates of SARS-CoV-2 positivity, according to a review published online March 16 in The BMJ.

John Allotey, Ph.D., from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a living systematic review and meta-analysis to examine the rates of SARS-CoV-2 positivity in babies born to mothers with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Data were included from 472 studies, with 28,952 mothers and 18,237 babies.

The researchers found that 1.8 percent of the 14,271 babies born to mothers with SARS-CoV-2 infection tested positive for the virus. Of the 592 SARS-CoV-2-positive babies with data on the timing of exposure, 14 had confirmed mother-to-child transmission: seven, two, and five in utero, intrapartum, and during the early postnatal period, respectively. Outcome data were available for 800 SARS-CoV-2-positive babies, of which 20 were stillbirths, 23 were neonatal deaths, and eight were early pregnancy losses; at the end of follow-up, 749 babies were alive. Correlations with SARS-CoV-2 positivity in offspring were seen for severe maternal COVID-19, maternal death, admission to an intensive care unit, and maternal postnatal infection (odds ratios, 2.4, 14.1, 3.5, and 5.0, respectively).

“Evidence was found for confirmed vertical transmission of the virus, although the absolute numbers are low,” the authors write. “Severe maternal COVID-19 may be associated with SARS-CoV-2 positivity in babies, but not vaginal delivery, breastfeeding, or mother-baby contact after birth.”

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