Until now, there has been some limited evidence suggesting that an unborn child could catch the coronavirus from inside the womb, but the paper’s authors, from the Antoine Béclère hospital in Paris, confirmed “transplacental transmission of SARS-CoV-2” was possible.
They said that a 23-year-old woman was admitted to the hospital with a fever and cough on March 24 when she was more than 35 weeks pregnant with a boy.
The mother tested positive for the coronavirus, gave birth via Cesarean section, and the baby was immediately taken to the natal intensive care unit of the hospital.
The baby tested positive for the virus. He later recovered and was discharged from hospital 18 days later, the doctors wrote.
The doctors said the baby’s brain bore evidence of inflammation caused by the coronavirus, which had crossed the placenta into the baby’s bloodstream.
They ruled out the chance that the baby caught the virus after birth via viral or bacterial means.
“The placenta showed signs of acute and chronic intervillous inflammation consistent with the severe systemic maternal inflammatory status triggered by SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the authors said.
The doctors pointed out that there have been similar cases of babies being born with the coronavirus in the past, but until now, they had not been able to say definitively whether babies could contract the virus in utero.