Expectant mothers who have Covid-19 are unlikely to pass the virus to their newborns if appropriate hygiene precautions are taken, a study suggests.
The findings, which involved 120 babies and their mothers, suggest that mothers can breastfeed and remain in the same room as their newborns, if they use face coverings and follow infection control procedures, according to The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.
Lead author Dr Christine M Salvatore, from the Weill Cornell Medicine-New York Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital, US, said: “Data on the risk of Covid-19 transmission during pregnancy or while breastfeeding are limited to a small number of case studies.
“Consequently, guidelines for pregnant women and new mothers vary.
“We hope our study will provide some reassurance to new mothers that the risk of them passing Covid-19 to their babies is very low.
“However, larger studies are needed to better understand the risks of transmission from mother to child.”
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK also recommends that mothers should share a room with their babies and breastfeed, with appropriate precautions.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) also advocates a similar guidance.
Medics looked at outcomes from 120 babies born to 116 mothers at three hospitals in New York City between March 22 and May 17.
Mothers were required to wear surgical masks and follow frequent hand and breast washing procedures. All of the babies tested negative for coronavirus within the first 24 hours of birth.
Tests on the majority of babies were repeated seven days and two weeks later.
A week later, 79 babies were tested for the virus again and 72 babies received a further test two weeks after birth, but none showed symptoms.
Dr Patricia DeLaMora, from the Komansky Children’s Hospital who jointly led the study, said: “We know that skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding are important both for mother-infant bonding and for long-term child health.
“Our findings suggest that babies born to mothers with Covid-19 infection can still benefit from these safely, if appropriate infection control measures are followed.”