To describe perinatal and neonatal outcomes in newborns exposed to SARS-CoV-2.
A systematic review was conducted by searching PubMed Central, LILACS, and Google Scholar using the keywords ‘covid ’ AND ‘newborn’ OR ‘child’ OR ‘infant,’ on 18 March 2020, and again on 17 April 2020. One researcher conducted the search and extracted data on demographics, maternal outcomes, diagnostic tests, imaging, and neonatal outcomes.
Of 256 publications identified, 20 met inclusion criteria and comprised neonatal outcome data for 222 newborns whose mothers were suspected or confirmed to be SARS-CoV-2 positive perinatally (17 studies) or of newborns referred to hospital with infection/pneumonia (3 studies). Most (12 studies) were case-series reports; all were from China, except three (Australia, Iran, and Spain). Of the 222 newborns, 13 were reported as positive for SARS-CoV-2; most of the studies reported no or mild symptoms and no adverse perinatal outcomes. Two papers among those from newborns who tested positive reported moderate or severe clinical characteristics. Five studies using data on umbilical cord blood, placenta, and/or amniotic fluid reported no positive results. Nine studies reported radiographic imaging, including 5 with images of pneumonia, increased lung marking, thickened texture, or high-density nodular shadow. Minor, non-specific changes in biochemical variables were reported. Studies that tested breast milk reported negative SARS-CoV-2 results.
Given the paucity of studies at this time, vertical transmission cannot be confirmed or denied. Current literature does not support abstaining from breastfeeding nor separating mothers and newborns. Further evidence and data collection networks, particularly in the Americas, are needed for establishing definitive guidelines and recommendations.