LONDON: Scientists have assessed cases of Covid-19 in newborns across the UK, and found that nearly 90 per cent of them had fully recovered, and had been discharged from hospital, an advance which suggests that severe infection in babies is very rare.
The study, published in the journal The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, traced babies less than 29 days old with Covid-19 across the UK, who needed to be admitted into hospital between the beginning of March and end of April.
In the research, scientists, including those from the Imperial College London in the UK, found that 66 babies required hospital treatment for Covid-19 infection in this period — equivalent of 1 in 1785 births, or 0.06 per cent of births.
The main symptoms of Covid-19 infection in the babies included high temperature, poor feeding, vomiting, a runny nose, cough and lethargy, the researchers said.
They added that nearly half of the babies who developed severe infection were from Black, Asian or minority ethnic groups, and around one in four of the babies were born prematurely.
According to the study, only 17 babies, out of the 66 newborns were suspected to have caught Covid-19 from their mother in the first seven days after birth, and six of them may have contracted the disease while in hospital.
The research revealed that two of these newborns may have potentially contracted Covid-19 in the womb.
Seven of the 17 babies developed Covid-19 despite being separated from their mother immediately after birth, supporting international guidance to keep mother and baby together even when the mother is suspected or known to have Covid-19, the scientists said.
They said none of the babies in the group died from Covid-19, and nearly 90 per cent of the 66 babies had fully recovered from the infection, and had been discharged from hospital.
According to the scientists, a higher proportion of newborns who develop severe disease needed intensive care or breathing support (36 per cent), compared with older children (13 per cent).
However, they added that severe infection in newborn babies is “still very rare.”
Based on the results, the researchers said if a mother tests positive for Covid-19, her baby does not need to be separated from her at birth.
“Parents, and expectant parents, are understandably worried about their babies becoming ill with Covid-19,” said Chris Gale, co-lead author of the study from Imperial’s School of Public Health said
“This study will hopefully provide some reassurance, as it suggests severe Covid-19 infection in newborns is very rare,” Gale said.
While the study showed that six babies may have contracted hospital-acquired Covid-19, the scientists said this data was from the beginning of the pandemic.
They believe infection control measures on neonatal and paediatric units have improved dramatically over the past six months.



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