Objective: The objective of this study is to systematically synthesize the currently available literature on various modes of transmission (congenital, intrapartum, and postpartum), clinical features and outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infection in neonates.
Methods: We conducted a comprehensive literature search using PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science until 9 June 2020. A combination of keywords and MeSH terms, such as COVID-19, coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, 2019-nCoV, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, neonates, newborn, infant, pregnancy, obstetrics, vertical transmission, maternal-foetal transmission and intrauterine transmission, were used in the search strategy. We included studies reporting neonatal outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 proven pregnancies or neonatal cases diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Results: Eighty-six publications (45 case series and 41 case reports) were included in this review. Forty-five case series reported 1992 pregnant women, of which 1125 (56.5%) gave birth to 1141 neonates. A total of 281 (25%) neonates were preterm, and caesarean section (66%) was the preferred mode of delivery. Forty-one case reports describe 43 mother-baby dyads of which 16 were preterm, 9 were low birth weight and 27 were born by caesarean section. Overall, 58 neonates were reported with SARS-CoV-2 infection (4 had a congenital infection), of which 29 (50%) were symptomatic (23 required ICU) with respiratory symptoms being the predominant manifestation (70%). No mortality was reported in SARS-CoV-2-positive neonates.
Conclusion: The limited low-quality evidence suggests that the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infections in neonates is extremely low. Unlike children, most COVID-positive neonates were symptomatic and required intensive care. Postpartum acquisition was the commonest mode of infection in neonates, although a few cases of congenital infection have also been reported.