Research question: Is there vertical transmission (from mother to baby antenatally or intrapartum) after SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infected pregnancy? Study design: A systematic search related to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), pregnancy, neonatal complications, viral and vertical transmission. The duration was from December 2019 to May 2020. Results: A total of 84 studies with 862 COVID positive women were included. Two studies had ongoing pregnancies while 82 studies included 705 babies, 1 miscarriage and 1 medical termination of pregnancy (MTOP). Most publications (50/84, 59.5%), reported small numbers (<5) of positive babies. From 75 studies, 18 babies were COVID-19 positive. The first reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) diagnostic test was done in 449 babies and 2 losses, 2nd RT-PCR was done in 82 babies, IgM tests were done in 28 babies, and IgG tests were done in 28 babies. On the first RT-PCR, 47 studies reported time of testing while 28 studies did not. Positive results in the first RT-PCR were seen in 14 babies. Earliest tested at birth and the average time of the result was 22 hours. Three babies with negative first RT-PCR became positive on the second RT-PCR at day 6, day 7 and at 24 hours which continued to be positive at 1 week. Four studies with a total of 4 placental swabs were positive demonstrating SARS-CoV-2 localised in the placenta. In 2 studies, 10 tests for amniotic fluid were positive for SARS-CoV-2. These 2 babies were found to be positive on RT-PCR on serial testing. Conclusion: Diagnostic testing combined with incubation period and placental pathology indicate a strong likelihood that intrapartum vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) from mother to baby is possible.


© 2021 Facts, Views & Vision This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Bahadur, G., Bhat, M., Acharya, S., Janga, D., Campbell, B., Huirne, J., Yoong, W., Govind, A., Pardo, J. & Homburg, R. 2021, 'Retrospective observational RT-PCR analyses on 688 babies born to 843 SARS-CoV-2 positive mothers, placental analyses and diagnostic analyses limitations suggest vertical transmission is possible', Facts, Views and Vision in ObGyn, 13(1), pp. 53-66. https://dx.doi.org/10.52054/FVVO.13.1.001

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Last updated: 17 June 2023
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