While researchers and doctors have been saying that babies can’t contract the coronavirus from their mother’s in the womb, new research has now emerged that shows it is, in fact, possible for an unborn baby to get COVID-19 from their mother.
This finding comes after a US baby girl was born prematurely at 34 weeks to a mother who had COVID-19, and type 2 diabetes.
According to a report on IOL the baby seemed to be healthy at first, with normal breathing and other vital signs. However, a day after her birth she developed a fever and mild breathing problems. The researchers of the study, which was published in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, says it’s unlikely that the infant’s breathing problems was a result of her prematurity as it only started on the second day of her life.
The baby tested positive for COVID-19 24 hours after birth and again 48 hours after birth.
The good news is that both mom and baby were sent home in good health after 21 days.
The researchers examined the placenta, which showed signs of tissue inflammation. Specialised tests also documented the presence of coronavirus particles as well as a protein specific for the COVID-19 virus in foetal cells of the placenta. These findings are what confirmed that transmission happened in the womb and not during or after the birth.
“We wanted to be very careful of our interpretation of this data, but now is an even more important time for pregnant women to protect themselves from COVID-19,” said study lead author Amanda S Evans from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in the US.
How to protect yourself against COVID-19 during pregnancy:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially when you arrive home from public spaces. This is the best way to reduce any risk of infection.
- Wear a mask as stipulated by government regulations.
- Aside from seeking medical care, expectant moms should restrict their visits to public spaces such as the grocery store or pharmacy. If you have no one else to go for you, follow the correct preventative measures.
- Pregnant women are advised to stay at home as much as possible during this period.
- Keep your immune system strong to protect yourself and your baby against the virus. “Carry on taking your prescribed vitamins and iron tablets. Iron is a key mineral that boosts energy levels and increases resistance to stress, infection and disease,” says Dr Howard Manyonga, an obstetrician and Head of The Birthing Team in Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal. You can also add dark green leafy vegetables, like spinach, whole grains and lean proteins, such as red meat and poultry into your diet. Vitamin D is also important because it boosts the immune system by helping to regulate cells focused on fighting infections.
- Get enough sleep. “It’s important that expectant moms get 6-9 hours of sleep a night. This will boost your immune system and help you recover quicker if you do get sick,” adds Dr Manyonga .
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