Coronavirus Likely Can't Be Transmitted This Way, Study Finds

Research indicates new parents may have one less thing to worry about when it comes to COVID.

Given that COVID-19 is such a new disease, there is little data available surrounding how the novel coronavirus affects pregnancy—specifically when it comes to the possibility of those infected with the virus transmitting it to their newborns. This has led to a lot of uncertainty about whether or not it is safe to breastfeed, or if doing so carries the risk of potentially passing the virus from parent to child. Now, a recent study published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health is quashing some of those fears. New parents can breathe a sigh of relief because the research indicates that it is unlikely that COVID-19 can be contracted through the act of breastfeeding.

The doctors behind the study identified babies born at three New York Presbyterian Hospitals between Mar. 22 and May 17 to patients who tested positive for coronavirus at the time of delivery. They then monitored these subjects, 116 in total, allowing them to practice skin-to-skin care methods, as well as breastfeed in the delivery room. However, the new parents were required to wear a surgical mask when near their baby and thoroughly wash their hands prior to having any direct contact with their child.

The babies were then tested for coronavirus at various instances during their first hours, days, and weeks of life. Of the 120 babies monitored, all tested negative for COVID-19 in their first 24 hours of life, the study found. Further, 82 of the newborns received an additional test between day five and day seven of life, and 72 infants were also tested at 14 days. In all cases, the tests came back negative and none of the newborns exhibited any visible symptoms associated with coronavirus infection.

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The researchers behind the study say it is the largest of its kind to date and that the findings support two important claims regarding COVID transmission. "Our data suggest that perinatal transmission is unlikely to occur if correct hygiene precautions are undertaken and that rooming in and breastfeeding are safe procedures when paired with effective parental education of infant protective strategies," the study authors wrote.

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Co-author Christine Salvatore, MD, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Weill Cornell Medicine-New York Presbyterian Komansky Children's Hospital, said in a statement to Live Science: "We hope our study will provide some reassurance to new mothers that the risk of them passing COVID-19 to their babies is very low." And for more about potential routes of coronavirus transmission, check out The New Part of Your Body COVID Can Attack.

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