The baby girl born to a mother who tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has tested negative to the deadly virus. The mother, who was delivering her fourth child, underwent caesarean section delivery at Entebbe regional referral hospital last Saturday.
Dr Pontiano Kaleebu, the director of the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) said that the results for the baby’s sample that was drawn on Sunday were released among the 231 samples of Ugandans who tested negative to the disease.
Entebbe hospital director Dr Moses Muwanga says the hospital is now trying it’s best to ensure the safety of the baby while waiting for the mother to recover. He declined to comment on whether the mother is breastfeeding the baby or if the two are allowed to share a room.
Recent research findings have not found traces of the virus in breast milk but they all advance safety precautionary measures to require the mother to wear an N95 respiratory approved mask and wash hands before breastfeeding to boost the baby’s immunity and also reduce the risk of infection.
Last month, Chinese researchers from hospitals in Wuhan University noted that there is a possibility of mother to child transmission of the coronavirus disease. This was based on a study on samples of seven neonates of positive mothers who had indications of antibodies transmitted from their mothers to fight against the virus.
The researchers, however, noted that there is a need for a large scale study to determine if positive pregnant women can transmit the virus before, during and after delivery.
Now, paediatrician Dr Sabrina Kitaka is happy that the baby’s initial test is negative and hopes that she will remain negative even after the 14-30 day incubation period for the virus.
Although not conclusive as yet, Kitaka says research findings so far show that “it is rare for COVID-19 positive mothers to transmit the virus to their newborns, this could be because it is a respiratory virus that spreads and thrives in the respiratory tract and not the reproductive system.”
Kitaka added that researchers in Uganda should also look into the case of the baby girl currently under observation at Entebbe hospital. She thinks that there could be a possibility of low mother to child transmission of COVID-19 due to the size of the virus in comparison to HIV which can pass through the placenta to the newborn during delivery.
Another research conducted by in JAMA Pediatrics noted that they cannot rule out mother to baby COVID-19 transmission. The researchers studied 33 newborns of women with COVID-19 related pneumonia and found out that only three of the babies had COVID-19-related pneumonia.
They thereby concluded that all the babies had been infected in the womb and noted that it is important to screen pregnant women and implement strict infection control measures, quarantine of infected mothers and close monitoring of neonates at risk of COVID-19.
Since December 2019, when the pandemic emerged, research has been done on a total of 19 babies born to COVID-19 positive mothers.