New Born Baby & Covid

Dr. Padmesh Vadakepat, Neonatologist at Ahalia Women & Children’s Hospital, Palakkad tries to answer the common queries asked by COVID positive mothers about how to take care of their newborn babies.

Newborn COVID

1. Mother:  I am COVID positive. Is it possible for my baby to get infection from me?

Dr Padmesh:  Unfortunately yes, newborn babies can also get infected by COVID. However, the good news is that most infected babies are either symptomatic, or are only mildly symptomatic.

2. Mother: What are the ways by which my newborn can get infected?

Dr Padmesh: There are 3 ways by which a newborn can get infected from the mother :

    • Transmission from mother to fetus before delivery -but this is rare.
    • Transmission during the time of delivery.
    • Post-natal transmission after birth- this can be from an infected mother or any other infected contact. This mode seems to be the commonest.

3. Mother: Can I breastfeed my baby if I am COVID positive?

Dr Padmesh: The World Health Organization (WHO) categorically recommends COVID positive mothers to breastfeed their babies. This is mainly because the benefits of breastfeeding overweigh the potential risk of transmission. So far, transmission of live virus through breast milk causing infection to newborns has not been documented. Also, breast milk has immunological factors like IgA, which may protect the babies against infections. So yes, infected mothers can definitely breastfeed her babies.

4. Mother: Should I take any precautions while breastfeeding my baby when I am COVID positive?

Dr Padmesh: Yes, UNICEF advises 3 steps to be followed when a COVID positive mother feeds her baby. They are the 3 W’s:

  • W – Wear properly-fitting mask always.
  • W – Wash hands with soap before and after touching your baby.
  • W – Wipe and disinfect all surfaces regularly.

5. Mother: Should I separate my baby from me when I am COVID Positive?

Dr Padmesh: Rooming-in is still recommended, and there is no need to separate the baby from an infected mother. However, baby should be kept more than 6 feet away from the mother while not breast-feeding. And the mother should always wear a proper mask.

6. Mother: Can my newborn baby wear a face mask to prevent getting infected?

Dr Padmesh: No. Face masks should not be used in newborn babies and in children who are less than 2 years of age.

7. Mother: I am a lactating mother breastfeeding my baby. Can I vaccinate myself with COVID vaccine?

Dr Padmesh: Breastfeeding mothers must get vaccinated just like others in the general population. In fact, it may even possibly help the baby because of passage of protective antibodies through the breast milk.

8. Mother: Are there any long-term consequences of COVID infection in newborn babies?

Dr Padmesh: This is a very valid question, but since COVID 19 is relatively new, the scientific community really doesn’t have an answer to it at this point of time, as it might take years for us to completely understand the long-term consequences.

(For further doubts or consultations, Dr Padmesh Vadakepat can be reached at 04923-226000 or, Ahalia Women & Children’s Hospital, Palakkad )