Till now there were no cases reported of COVID-19 transmission in the womb. Numerous infants have now been delivered to COVID-19 infected pregnant mothers, most of whom have no respiratory disease or clear molecular evidence for SARS-CoV-2. But a recent study published in The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, the official journal of The European Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases. The findings of the study report that in-utero transmission of COVID -19 known as Intrauterine Transmission was seen in a baby girl born prematurely to a mother with COVID-19. This provides a strong evidence that intrauterine (in the womb) transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) can occur.

The authors explain that the infant was born to a COVID-19 diagnosed mother who also had type 2 diabetes. The baby was born after the mother had premature membrane rupture at 34 weeks of gestation. The baby was born as “big for gestational age” (LGA)-a major complication in diabetic mother babies. In the neonatal ICU, she was treated because of premature birth and possible SARS-CoV-2. The baby initially appeared stable, with regular breathing and other vital signs. She developed fever on the second day of life, and fairly mild breathing problems. After running tests, the baby tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection. She had been diagnosed for several days with supplemental oxygen but didn’t require mechanical ventilation. Tests for COVID-19 remained positive up to 14 days. After 21 days, the mother and the baby both were sent home in good condition. 

The researchers examined the placenta which showed signs of inflammation of the tissue. In addition , the presence of coronavirus particles as well as a protein (SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein) unique to COVID-19 virus in placenta fetal cells was reported by specialist research. Together these results demonstrated the transmission of the infection in the womb, rather than before or after birth. Although COVID-19 data remains very limited, “SARS-CoV-2 intrauterine transmission seems a rare event.

The COVID-19 transmission in the womb highlights several important targets for further study, including in utero SARS-CoV-2 transmission pathways and risk factors, and results of congenital COVID-19 in infants. Amanda S. Evans, MD, one of the lead authors of the new study says, “Our study is the first to document intrauterine transmission of the infection during pregnancy, based on immunological and ultrastructural evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the fetal cells of the placenta.”