Contrary to the previous findings, the researchers now claim that mothers with Covid-19 infection are unlikely to pass the virus to their newborn if correct hygiene precautions are observed.
The study, published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal, examined 120 babies born to mothers with Covid-19 infection, found no cases of transmission of the virus during childbirth or after two weeks of breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact.
The findings suggest that mothers with Covid-19 infection can breastfeed and stay in the same room as their newborn safely if they use appropriate face coverings and follow infection control procedures.
“We know that skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding are important both for mother-infant bonding and for long-term child health,” said study author Patricia DeLaMora from the NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital, US.
“Our findings suggest that babies born to mothers with Covid-19 infection can still benefit from these safely, if appropriate infection control measures are followed,” DeLaMora added.
The latest study observed outcomes from 120 babies born to 116 mothers at three hospitals in New York City between March 22 and May 17, 2020.
All of the babies were allowed to share a room with their mothers and breastfeed if their mothers were well enough. The babies were kept in enclosed cribs, six feet apart, except during feeding.
Mothers were required to wear surgical masks while handling their babies and followed frequent hand and breast washing procedures.
All of the babies underwent a PCR test from a nasal swab within the first 24 hours of birth and none tested positive for Covid-19.
Follow-up data was available for 82 babies after five to seven days of life. Of these, the vast majority had been sharing a room with their mothers (83 per cent) and three quarters were still breastfeeding (78 per cent).
A total of 79 babies were tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus again after 5-7 days, and 72 babies received a further test after two weeks of birth.
The findings showed that none of the results were positive and none of the babies showed symptoms of Covid-19 at any time.
Fifty-three babies underwent a remote check-up by video conferencing after one month of birth. All of them continued to be clinically well and were growing appropriately, the study said.
However, the researchers highlight that the sample size in the study is small to draw firm conclusions and larger studies may be needed.
Earlier, a case study published in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal provided evidence of Covid-19 transmission from mother to infant.