Infection with COVID-19 found to be rare in new-born babies

A summary of research published in the Lancet

Children appear to be less affected by COVID-19 compared to adults. However, there are not many studies that look at how the disease affects babies. This new study aimed to assess what impact COVID-19 had on new-born babies who needed hospital care after their birth.  

What did the study look at?

This study collected information from 190 neonatal units in hospitals in the UK between 1 March and 30 April 2020. All units were asked to report any cases of COVID-19 infection in babies that were admitted to neonatal units in the first 28 days of their life.

What do the results show?

66 babies were reported to have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) in the reporting period. Over the same time, there were an estimated 118,347 births. This shows that, in this period, approximately 5 out of 10,000 babies had the virus.  

Results also showed that 17 babies with a confirmed infection were born to mothers who were also known to have the infection. 8 babies were suspected of acquiring the infection due to being in hospital.

Why is this important?

The findings show that infection with COVID-19 is uncommon in babies admitted to hospital. The results also showed that infection between a mother and baby was rare, which supports international guidance to avoid separating a mother and baby. The authors suggest that more research is needed into why a high proportion of the cases were seen in babies from Black, Asian or minority ethnic groups.

Read the original research paper

Title: Characteristics and outcomes of neonatal SARS-CoV-2 infection in the UK: a prospective national cohort study using active surveillance