A recent study by researchers at University of California San Francisco found that infants born to women with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) showed few adverse outcomes, according to the first report in the country on infant outcomes through 8 weeks of age.

The study suggests that babies born to mothers infected with the virus generally do well 6 to 8 weeks after birth. However, there was a higher rate of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admissions reported if the mothers had COVID-19 up to 2 weeks prior to delivery, according to the study authors.

The study included 263 infants and reported on the live births among 179 mothers with a positive test for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and 84 mothers who had a negative test. The average mother was 31 years of age, and among the women who tested positive, 81% were symptomatic, whereas 63% of the women who tested negative were symptomatic.

Forty-four of the 263 infants were admitted to a NICU unit, but no pneumonia or lower respiratory tract infections were reported during the study. Further, among 56 infants assessed for upper respiratory infection, the condition was reported in 2 infants with COVID-positive mothers and in 1 with a COVID-negative mother.

When analyzing the infants who were born to mothers who tested positive, the estimated incidence of a positive infant SARS-CoV-2 test was low at 1.1%, as COVID-19 did not appear to impact those infants, according to the study authors.  

Birth defects were reported in 2 infants born to mothers who tested positive in the third trimester, each with multiple congenital anomalies reported. These included 1 infant having cardiac, vertebral, renal, and pulmonary anomalies, whereas the other had facial, genital, renal, brain, and cardiac anomalies. Additionally, 1 mother who tested negative reported an infant with gastrointestinal, renal, and cardiac anomalies.

The researchers noted that the findings could help inform national and international guidelines and policies, but noted study limitations, such as tests for infection having a possible bias by false-positive or false-negative results. The researchers also mentioned that Latinas and Blacks were underrepresented in the study and that further research is needed on infant incidence following maternal infection.

Most infants are well even when moms are infected by COVID-19. UCSF. https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2020/09/418571/most-infants-are-well-even-when-moms-are-infected-covid-19. Published September 22, 2020. Accessed September 29, 2020.