The changing landscape of SARS-CoV-2: Implications for the maternal-infant dyad

Elgin, T.G., Fricke, E.M., Hernandez Reyes, M.E., Tsimis, M.E., Leslein, N.S., Thomas, B.A., Sato, T.S., McNamara, P.J.* | JNPM 2020;


The COVID-19 pandemic represents the greatest challenge to date faced by the medical community in the 21st century. The rate of rapid dissemination, magnitude of viral contagiousness, person to person transmission at an asymptomatic phase of illness pose a unique and dangerous challenge for all patients, including neonatal and obstetric patients. Although scientific understanding of the pathophysiology of the disease, nature of transmission, and efficacy of mitigation strategies is growing, neither a cure or vaccine have been developed. While COVID-19 is primarily a disease of older patients, infection is now seen across all age demographics with reports of illness in pregnant patients and infants. Altered hormone status and predominance of Th-2 immune helper cells may result in increased predisposition to SARS-CoV-2. Case reports of pregnant patients demonstrate a clinical presentation comparable to non-pregnant adults, but evidence of vertical transmission to the fetus is controversial. Neonatal reports demonstrate an inconsistent and non-specific phenotype, and it is often difficult to separate COVID-19 from the underlying conditions of prematurity or bacterial infection. The development of international registries to enable risk profiling of COVID-19 positive pregnant mothers and/or their offspring may facilitate the development of enhanced mitigation strategies, medical treatments and effective vaccinations.

*Corresponding Author: 

Dr Patrick J McNamara, Division of Neonatology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA. Tel.: (319) 467 7435; E-mail: