What is the risk of a mother transmitting COVID-19 to a newborn?

Bottom Line:

It is uncommon for a newborn to be infected with COVID-19, and the risk of infection is no higher if the baby is born vaginally, breastfed, or allowed contact with the mother.


Walker, K. et al. Maternal transmission of SARS‐COV‐2 to the neonate, and possible routes for such transmission: A systematic review and critical analysis. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (2020). DOI: 10.1111/1471‐0528.16362

Date Published:

12 June 2020


Concerns have been raised about COVID-19 in pregnancy, mainly because of the severe impact other coronavirus infections (such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) have had on pregnant women and newborns. To determine if COVID-19 poses the same threat, researchers reviewed cases of pregnant women with COVID-19 and analyzed the risk of infection of their newborn babies. This analysis was based on three factors: (1) if the baby was delivered vaginally or by C-section, (2) if the baby was breastfed or formula fed, and (3) if the baby was allowed contact with the mother or isolated from the mother. This study included 655 women and 666 newborns from 10 different countries, with 28 newborns having confirmed COVID-19 infection. The data showed that there was no significant increase in risk of COVID-19 infection in a newborn baby if they were born vaginally, breastfed or allowed contact with the mother. This suggests that confirmed COVID-19 in a pregnant woman should not be a reason for performing a C-section instead of a vaginal delivery, formula feeding instead of breast feeding, or isolating the infant from the mother, as long as the mother performs proper hand hygiene and ideally wears a surgical face mask.

Summary by: Caroline Gregory