First vertical COVID-19 transmission from mother to child recorded in India

BJ Medical College and Sassoon General Hospitals have reported the first confirmed case of vertical transmission of coronavirus disease from a mother to baby in the country.

Although the mother tested negative for the virus in her RT-PCR test, the baby girl’s nasopharyngeal swab, placenta and umbilical cord tested positive for the virus. According to the doctors, as this is the first of its kind case reported in the country, it will be documented in detail and published in a medical journal.

The baby was successfully treated for a period of three weeks and required intensive care due to severe inflammation. However, the baby has been recovered completely and has been discharged, officials said.

It all started when a 22-year-old pregnant woman gave birth to a baby on May 27. The mother had shown fever one day before the delivery and also signs of weakness which was presumed to be due to pregnancy. “The mother was tested for COVID-19 and a RT-PCR test was done in which she tested negative for the virus but the baby girl started showing symptoms like fever, lethargy and signs of severe COVID-19 along with abnormal blood tests, suggesting severe inflammation. The baby’s nasopharyngeal swab, placenta and the umbilical cord were taken for testing and they tested positive for COVID-19,” said Dr Aarti Kinikar, head of paediatric department at BJMC and SGH.

Dr Kinikar informed that such cases have been reported in China along with one case in the UK. In this case, although the mother tested negative for the virus, she did transmit the infection in the child. “After a period of four weeks when we did an antibodies test, there was evidence of COVID-19 infection by strong antibody response in the mother. It is possible that she recovered on her own. This was a very challenging case for us. The baby developed a severe case of COVID-19 and it required a lot of dedication and effort to successfully treat it,” she said.

Dr Murlidhar Tambe, dean of BJMC and SGH, said that this was the first confirmed case of vertical transmission reported from the country and the experts at the hospital were able to identify it and treat the baby successfully.

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