Saint John – A baby born earlier this month in Singapore to an infected mother had antibodies to the virus, but is not a carrier of the disease.
This has caused doctors in that country to study the impact of Covid-19 on pregnant women and their babies.
The study being carried out in public hospitals in the city-state joins international efforts to better understand whether infection or antibodies can be transferred during pregnancy and whether the latter offer an effective shield against the virus.
The World Health Organization says that while some pregnant women are at increased risk of developing severe Covid-19, it is not yet known whether an infected pregnant woman can transmit the virus to her fetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery.
Doctors said the baby of the Singaporean woman, infected with the coronavirus in March when she was already pregnant, had antibodies to the virus, but was born without the infection.
“It is still unknown whether the presence of these antibodies in a newborn confers a degree of protection against Covid-19 infection, let alone the duration of protection,” said Tan Hak Koon, president of the hospital’s obstetrics division. who cared for the woman.
The National University Hospital indicated that the study looks at the effects of Covid-19 on pregnant women, their fetus, and outcomes after delivery.
Doctors in China reported the detection and decline over time of Covid-19 antibodies in babies born to women with the coronavirus disease, according to an October article in Emerging Infectious Diseases.
While there is evidence that transmission during pregnancy is rare, a small study in Italy suggested that this is possible.
Other studies have shown that Covid-19 antibodies can be passed to a child through breastfeeding, but evidence is beginning to emerge that they could be passed through the placenta to the baby during pregnancy.
Paul Tambyah, one of the city-state’s leading disease experts, opined that it was encouraging that the antibodies were present in the Singaporean baby months after the mother’s infection, adding to broader evidence that They offer some protection against the virus.
“Worldwide there have been millions of people infected, including probably thousands of pregnant women, with very few reports of infections in very young babies. This suggests that there might be some protection against maternal antibodies and breastfeeding, ”said Tambyah, president of the Asia Pacific Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infections.