Published: 10th November 2020
Severe COVID-19 infection rare in newborns, says a new study from the UK
The analysis traced these babies with COVID-19 between the beginning of March and end of April, at the peak of the first wave of the UK COVID-19 pandemic
New research adds to the growing body of evidence that severe COVID-19 infection appears rare in newborn babies. The study, published in the journal The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, traced all babies less than 29 days old with COVID-19 across the UK, who needed to be admitted into the hospital.
The analysis traced these babies with COVID-19 between the beginning of March and end of April, at the peak of the first wave of the UK COVID-19 pandemic.
"The study found 66 babies required hospital treatment for COVID-19 infection in this period. This is the equivalent of one in 1785 births or 0.06 per cent of births," said study researchers from Imperial College London in the UK.
The UK-wide analysis, led by researchers from Imperial College London and the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford, is the first study analysing COVID-19 infections in newborns across the whole UK.
Only 17 babies, out of the 66 newborns in the study, were suspected to have caught COVID-19 from their mother in the first seven days after birth.
Seven of these 17 babies developed COVID-19 despite being separated from their mother immediately after birth. This supports the UK and international guidance to keep mother and baby together even when the mother is suspected or known to have COVID-19, say the team. Six babies were thought to have contracted COVID-19 while in hospital.
None of the babies in the group died from COVID-19. When the data were analysed nearly 90 per cent of the babies had fully recovered from the infection and had been discharged from the hospital.
The study suggests a higher proportion of newborns who develop severe disease will need intensive care or breathing support (36 per cent), compared with older children (13 per cent). However, the study authors add that severe infection in newborn babies is still very rare. The researchers add that, overall, this study suggests a small proportion of babies caught COVID-19 from their mother.
The researchers explain that, in light of this, if a mother tests positive for Covid-19, her baby does not need to be separated from her at birth.