Should a newborn be isolated at childbirth if the mother is positive for covid? Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and the Swedish public health agency have looked into the question.

According to them, the risks of contamination are extremely low and the benefits of leaving the newborn with its mother at birth are high. They publish their study in the JAMA April 29, 2021.

To read also: Pregnancy and covid: what are the risks?

0.9% of infected babies

This work is based on data from 88,159 births in Sweden between March 11, 2020 and January 31, 2021. A total of 2,323 babies were born to mothers who tested positive for covid during pregnancy. A third of them tested positive just before or just after giving birth.

As a result, only 21 of the 2,323 babies born to positive mothers (0.9%) themselves tested positive during their first 28 days. A figure qualified as “very weak“by the study’s authors. And in the majority of cases, the positive babies did not have symptoms.

More premature births

The researchers also observed that positive mothers were more at risk of giving birth prematurely than negative mothers, and that their infant’s health was generally poorer.

Scientists, however, have not observed a direct correlation between infection of the mother and respiratory infection or pneumonia in newborns.

Do not separate the newborn from its mother

This study therefore confirms the recommendations applied in Sweden, where the work was carried out, but also in France: these consist in not separating the baby from the mother after childbirth, even if the latter is positive for covid. In many countries, such a precautionary measure is taken despite the lack of supporting evidence, scientists lament.

Separating a newborn from its mother is a serious intervention whose negative consequences for the health of the mother and baby must be weighed against the possible benefits.“, explains Mikael Norman, professor of pediatrics at the Karolinska Institute and co-author of the study, in a institute press release. A choice that is all the more risky in the event of premature births, more frequent in the event of covid

No danger to breastfeed

Our study suggests that mother and baby can be cared for together and that breastfeeding can be recommended without endangering the health of the baby. This is good news for all pregnant women, their babies, and postnatal and newborn caregivers.“continues Professor Norman.

To date, the World Health Organization (WHO) is moving in the same direction. According to her, if a young mother is a carrier of the coronavirus, she can continue to take care of her child. She will have to wash her hands thoroughly “before touching the baby“and”wear a mask during contact“, for example during breast-feeding. This one remains recommended, even in the event of symptoms.