Moms infected with COVID-19 don't need to separate from their newborn after birth, study suggests
A new study adds to the growing evidence that postpartum mothers may not need to be separated from their newborn, even after testing positive for COVID-19.
Researchers at Columbia University's Irving Medical Center found no evidence of transmission from infected mothers to newborns, according to an observational study published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
The study included 101 babies and 100 mothers, with one mother giving birth to twins. Ninety-nine mothers tested positive for COVID-19 and one negative, but they showed clinical symptoms consistent with the disease.
Of the 100 mothers, 91 opted for breastfeeding and 76 for the same room as their newborn. Mothers who breastfeed their newborns wore masks and practiced breast and hand hygiene. Those who were with their newborn saw her physically distant in an isolate about two meters away.
"Our results suggest that mothers who are positive for SARS-CoV-2, including those with clinical symptoms, and their newborns may not need to be separated," the authors concluded. However, this was only true when implementing methods to reduce transmission.
In March, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology recommended that pregnant women contracting COVID-19 may be separated from their newborns for up to a week or more to avoid the stop possible spread of the virus from mother to child.
However, both have since updated the guidelines. According to the ACOG, the separation of mother and child after birth should be "a process of shared decision-making with the patient, their family and the clinical team".
The association recommends combining placement with safety measures such as wearing a mask, practicing hand hygiene, and technical control barriers to keep the newborn three feet away from the mother as often as possible.
"Rooming-in is a key practice to promote and support breastfeeding," ACOG said in a statement. However, it is also recognized that there may be some special circumstances in which temporary separation is appropriate.
Dr. Oluwatosin Goje, obstetrician, gynecologist and infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, said the study should reassure all mothers who want to breastfeed, regardless of their COVID-19 test results.
Breastfeeding has long been linked to reduced disease rates like breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and type 2 diabetes, said Rebecca H. McCormick, president of the La Leche League USA, a nonprofit advocating breastfeeding.
The study's authors also say in their analysis that breast milk can help prevent infection, as it is known to protect against numerous pathogens and contains immunoglobulin A, an antibody that can fight the coronavirus.
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"COVID-19 is still an emerging infectious disease. As more data becomes available, the CDC, ACOG and hospitals are sure to keep changing their policies," Goje said. "We all want to practice evidence-based medicine, I know that."
Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.
US TODAY health and patient safety coverage is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide any editorial contributions.
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: COVID: Sick mothers may not need to be separated from babies after giving birth
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