A set of newborn triplets, two boys and a girl, have tested positive for COVID-19 in Mexico.
While it is still unclear to local authorities how the babies contracted the virus, the incident is being investigated to determine if it could have been passed through the mother’s placenta.
However, transmission between a mother and her unborn child is rare.
Of the triplets, a boy and a girl are stable and under observation at an isolation ward in a hospital in San Luis Potosí state, while the third child is being treated for respiratory problems.
They were born prematurely and confirmed positive on June 17, the date of their birth.
“It would be impossible for them to have been infected at the moment of birth,” Mónica Liliana Rangel Martínez, state health secretary, said.
Samples have also been taken from the parents to determine their COVID-19 status.
Although there have been record of infections involving babies contracting the virus after birth, researchers from the Yale School of Medicine, in a study published in May 2020, document the first case of COVID-19 infection in the placenta.
In another study published in June 2020, the conclusion held that “neonatal COVID-19 infection is uncommon, uncommonly symptomatic, and the rate of infection is no greater when the baby is born vaginally, breastfed or allowed contact with the mother.”
Meanwhile, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on safety during the period of pregnancy published in March 2020, there isn’t enough information to conclude on the possibility of transmission of the coronavirus from a pregnant woman to her child.
“Research is currently underway to understand the impacts of COVID 19 infection on pregnant women. Data are limited, but at present there is no evidence that they are at higher risk of severe illness than the general population,” the document reads.
“However, due to changes in their bodies and immune systems, we know that pregnant women can be badly affected by some respiratory infections.
“It is therefore important that they take precautions to protect themselves against COVID-19, and report possible symptoms (including fever, cough or difficulty breathing) to their healthcare provider.
“We still do not know if a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can pass the virus to her foetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery. To date, the active virus has not been found in samples of amniotic fluid or breast milk.”