Newborns and COVID-19: Mother-to-newborn infection rate is low

BOSTON — For the first time ever, new dad Justin Adams from Bellingham is holding his twin son and daughter Tatum and Ivy together.

“She’s hopefully getting ready to come home soon, he’s going to be a little longer I think,” said Adams.

Inside the NICU at UMASS Memorial Health, it’s packed with newborns.

Just down the hall is another set of twins, Bodhi and River.

At the beginning of the pandemic, there were a lot of unknowns when it comes to how COVID-19 might affect moms and newborns.

“There was just not a lot of evidence or experience in treating anyone and particularly treating newborns, “said Dr. Katherine Sullivan – Ass. Prof Pediatrics - Neonatologist – UMASS Memorial Health.

Dr. Katherine Sullivan and others across the Commonwealth set out to find some answers.

“Across the state, we all decided to collaborate,” said Dr. Sullivan.

They found the transmission rate from mother to newborn was pretty low.

“In fact, we weren’t seeing high rates of transmissions even doing vaginal deliveries, breastfeeding and things like that were not increasing the rate of transmission to the infant,” said Dr. Sullivan.

Critical information for moms, parents, and families who are trying to decide the best choice of care.

“We would definitely recommend breastfeeding and even direct breastfed, you don’t have to pump the milk and feed the baby with the bottle – you can do direct breastfeed, but still you can wear a mask especially if you are symptomatic,” said Dr. Sullivan.

Reassuring news in the NICU for new dad Justin Adams.

“My twins are doing really well,” said Adams.

For the newborns ready to go home and those set to meet the world soon.

The most significant negative health impacts for moms to newborns were found to be related to preterm deliveries, brought on by the mom’s COVID-19 illness, so a secondary effect contributing to health challenges for the baby.


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