Good news: Newborns don't face an increased risk for COVID even when mom tests positive

So there's probably no need to separate a newborn from their mama.

Good news: Newborns don't face an increased risk for COVID even when mom tests positive
Photo by Jonathan Borba from Pexels

When the pandemic began some hospitals took the precaution of separating new mothers who had tested positive with COVID-19 from their newborns. The science around COVID-19 was (and let's be honest, still is) in its infancy – and some doctors recommended the separation out of an abundance of caution.

Now, a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics has found that babies who stayed with, and even breastfed from, their COVID-19-postive mothers did not have an increased risk of contracting the virus.

This is great news.


Researchers studied 101 babies born to COVID-positive moms in New York City. The babies were all born in the same hospital between March 13 and April 24. Most of the mothers were allowed to stay in the same room as their child. Some, however, were separated. In those cases, either the baby was admitted to the neonatal intensive care or the mother was placed in intensive care.

When mom and baby were in contact, mothers were encouraged to wear face masks and wash their hands frequently.

The study ultimately found that there was no evidence of transmission between any of the mothers and their children.

In an essay published in the same journal, David Kimberlin, MD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Karen Puopolo, MD, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, explained that COVID-19 recommendations will continue to evolve as new information is able to study.

"This is exactly how the scientific method is supposed to work," they wrote. "Despite the many horrors of the past months, we can draw solace from the knowledge that scientific processes that have worked in the past are working now and will continue to serve us as we move together into an uncertain future."

We know that close contact between parents and newborns is important. This study suggests that as long as proper hygiene measures are taken, COVID-positive parents can continue to care for and bond with their little ones.

If you're currently pregnant and you or your partner has tested positive for COVID-19, the CDC recommends having early discussions with your medical team about the best way to care for you and your child.

Jamie Orsini is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, military spouse, and a mom to two busy toddlers. In her spare time, Jamie volunteers with the Solar System Ambassador program with NASA/JPL and reads anything she can get her hands on. She’s currently working on her first novel.

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