The researchers examined outcomes in the first 101 newborns born to COVID-19-positive mothers at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital or NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital from March 13 to April 24, 2020.
To reduce the risk of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to newborns after delivery, hospital staff practiced social distancing, wore masks, and placed COVID-positive moms in private rooms. The hospitals provided the women with educational materials about COVID-19 and shortened hospital stays for all mothers without complications from delivery.
Most of the newborns roomed with their mothers, including during the first postpartum checkup. (Some were admitted to the newborn intensive care unit for non-COVID-related health reasons.) Infants who roomed with their moms were placed in protective cribs 6 feet away from the mothers’ beds when resting. Direct breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact with babies were strongly encouraged, provided the moms wore masks and washed hands and breasts with soap and water.
“During the pandemic, we continued to do what we normally do to promote bonding and development in healthy newborns, while taking a few extra precautions to minimize the risk of exposure to the virus,” says Dr. Gyamfi-Bannerman.
Two of the newborns tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 but had no clinical evidence of illness. The researchers were unable to pinpoint how the babies became infected. Physicians followed up with about half the infants, including the two who tested positive for the virus, during the first two weeks of life, and all remained well.