A 30-hour-old, newborn baby has been diagnosed with coronavirus. Born on February 2 in the Wuhan region, the baby is in stable condition, according to Xinhua, a state media outlet in China. While the newborn has no fever or cough, doctors have reported shortness of breath, liver function abnormalities and signs of infection via a chest x-ray. Doctors are unsure of how the baby was infected with the virus. The baby’s mother had tested positive for the virus prior to giving birth, raising the possibility that infection occurred in the womb.
Concerns of Newborn Infection
This is the not first infant to be diagnosed with the coronavirus. The same hospital in Wuhan reported a baby who had been born healthy on January 13, only to start exhibiting coronavirus symptoms on the 29th. The baby’s mother and nanny were both diagnosed shortly thereafter.
“Whether it was the baby’s nanny who passed the virus to the mother who passed it to the baby, we cannot be sure at the moment,” Zeng Lingkong, chief physician of Wuhan Children Hospital’s neonatal medicine department, told state media. “But we can confirm that the baby was in close contact with patients infected with the new coronavirus, which says newborns can also be infected.”
According to Zeng, this new infection indicates that transmission between pregnant mothers and fetuses could be a concern. “This reminds us to pay attention to mother-to-child being a possible route of coronavirus transmission,” Zeng said.
Further Research Required
Still, many experts say it’s still too early to tell if prenatal infection is possible. “We’re still in the deep learning curve about this virus,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told The Guardian. “There’s more we don’t know than we know.”
Meanwhile, University of East Anglia Professor of Medicine Paul Hunter urged against jumping to conclusions. “As far as I am aware there is currently no evidence that the novel coronavirus can be transmitted in the womb,” the professor told The Guardian. “If a baby does get infected with coronavirus a few days after birth we currently cannot tell if the baby was infected in the womb or during birth.”
However, Hunter also pointed to a study indicating that coronaviruses could increase the risk of miscarriage. According to Hunter, this risk is greater than the risk of a fetus being infected in the womb.
Newborn Coronavirus — Sources
BBC News – “Coronavirus: Newborn becomes youngest person diagnosed with virus”
The Guardian – “Coronavirus: mother-baby transmission unproven despite case of newborn”
People – “30-Hour-Old Newborn Baby Diagnosed with Coronavirus in Youngest Case Yet”