Humans are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 and pregnant women and newborns are potential at-risk groups for COVID-19.
Coronavirus infections in pregnant women can cause adverse consequences, such as spontaneous miscarriage, preterm delivery and intrauterine growth restriction and stillbirth. As of now, there is no evidence of mother to child vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2, it is important to clarify whether the maternal inflammatory response affects the development and physiological state of newborns.
A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, July 2020, titled “The immunologic status of newborns born to SARS-CoV-2-infected mothers in Wuhan, China” examined the immune status of newborns from mothers with COVID-19 in the 3rd trimester. The following results were obtained from the study:
- Under strict protective measures, 51 newborns born to SARS-CoV-2 infected mothers in the third trimester were not infected.
- Mother’s infection had no significant effect on the cellular and humoral immunologic status of the newborn and lymphocyte differentiation was not affected significantly.
- Third trimester pregnant women with mild to moderate COVID-19 gave birth to healthy babies.
The authors concluded that COVID-19 in the third trimester did not significantly affect the immunity of the fetus and there was no evidence that immune subsets was seriously unbalanced.
The authors note that a limitation of the study is that changes in the immune system were only monitored at birth and not afterwards. More studies will need to be done to see if there are any long term immune manifestations. They also conclude that because of the role of the placental barrier, the newborn is in a relatively closed environment in the uterus. After the birth of the newborn, immune cells are stimulated by external antigens, thus affecting their later differentiation.
More studies will need to be examined to see if there are any longer ramifications in newborns born to COVID-19 mothers.