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Walker KF, O'Donoghue K, Grace N, et al. Maternal transmission of SARS-COV-2 to the neonate, and possible routes for such transmission: a systematic review and critical analysis [published online ahead of print, 2020 Jun 12]. BJOG. 2020;10.1111/1471-0528.16362. doi:10.1111/1471-0528.16362

Background: Early reports of COVID-19 in pregnancy described management by caesarean, strict isolation of the neonate and formula feeding. Is this practice justified?

Objective: To estimate the risk of the neonate becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 by mode of delivery, type of infant feeding and mother-infant interaction.

Search strategy: Two biomedical databases were searched between September 2019 and June 2020.

Selection criteria: Case reports or case series of pregnant women with confirmed COVID-19, where neonatal outcomes were reported.

Data collection and analysis: Data were extracted on mode of delivery, infant infection status, infant feeding and mother-infant interaction. For reported infant infection, a critical analysis was performed to evaluate the likelihood of vertical transmission.

Main results: Forty nine studies included information on mode of delivery and infant infection status for 655 women and 666 neonates. In all, 28/666 (4%) tested positive postnatally. Of babies born vaginally, 8/292 (2.7%) tested positivecompared with 20/374 (5.3%) born by Caesarean. Information on feeding and baby separation were often missing, but of reported breastfed babies 7/148 (4.7%) tested positive compared with 3/56 (5.3%) for reported formula fed ones. Of babies reported as nursed with their mother 4/107 (3.7%) tested positive, compared with 6/46 (13%) for those who were reported as isolated.

Conclusions: Neonatal COVID-19 infection is uncommon, rarely symptomatic, and the rate of infection is no greater when the baby is born vaginally, breastfed or remains with the mother.

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