Can Pregnant Moms Pass Coronavirus To Their Babies?

With the threat of coronavirus — also known as COVID-19 — growing, a lot of people are understandably worried. Among the most concerned are expectant mothers who are worried about how contracting coronavirus may affect their child. Can pregnant moms actually pass coronavirus on to their babies?

While we are still learning about coronavirus and how it works, a new research study published in Frontiers in Pediatrics shows that moms likely don't pass coronavirus on to their babies. This is the second study from China which concluded that coronavirus cannot be transmitted in the womb. Between the two studies, 12 women who had tested positive for COVID-19 gave birth to a child who did not have the virus. It should be noted that all the volunteers in the recent study gave birth via C-section, and Chinese doctors believe that the method of delivery may play a role in the transmission of the virus. 

While there have been two documented cases of women with COVID-19 giving birth to babies who also tested positive for the virus, it's possible that they became ill simply through contact with their mothers after birth.

Should pregnant moms with COVID-19 have a C-section?

This doesn't necessarily mean, though, that expectant moms with COVID-19 should schedule a C-section, though. "Cases of newborn COVID-19 infection have been reported, but we think the babies contracted the virus at delivery or after birth, as opposed to during pregnancy," Dr. Ashley Roman, the director of maternal-fetal medicine at NYU Langone, told the New York Post. "Given that this is a new virus, we don't know if the risk of transmission is different with vaginal delivery versus cesarean delivery. COVID-19 infection in the mother by itself is currently not an indication for C-section."

Roman added that, while pregnant mothers shouldn't be worried about passing coronavirus on to their babies in the womb, expectant moms with COVID-19 "may be at higher risk of developing severe disease themselves," such as pneumonia and other severe respiratory illnesses as "changes in the immune system" while pregnant likely make expectant mothers more susceptible to contracting an illness.

"Put simply, they may [become] sicker than people of the same age who are not pregnant," said Roman, so it's more important than ever to have a good hand-washing routine down pat while you're pregnant — and after your baby is born.