SARS CoV-2 detected in neonatal stool remote from maternal COVID-19 during pregnancy.

TitleSARS CoV-2 detected in neonatal stool remote from maternal COVID-19 during pregnancy.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsJin JC, Ananthanarayanan A, Brown JA, Rager SL, Bram Y, Sanidad KZ, Amir M, Baergen RN, Stuhlmann H, Schwartz RE, Perlman JM, Zeng MY
JournalPediatr Res
Date Published2022 Aug 19

BACKGROUND: In utero transmission of SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has not been fully investigated. We investigated whether newborns of mothers with COVID-19 during pregnancy might harbor SARS-CoV-2 in the gastrointestinal tract.

METHODS: This cohort study investigated stool from 14 newborns born at 25-41 weeks admitted at delivery to our urban academic hospital whose mothers had COVID-19 during pregnancy. Eleven mothers had COVID-19 resolved more than 10 weeks before delivery. Newborn stool was evaluated for SARS-CoV-2 RNA, Spike protein, and induction of inflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) in macrophages.

RESULTS: Despite negative SARS CoV-2 nasal PCRs from all newborns, viral RNAs and Spike protein were detected in the stool of 11 out of 14 newborns as early as the first day of life and increased over time in 6. Stool homogenates from all 14 newborns elicited elevated inflammatory IL-6 and IFN-γ from macrophages. Most newborns were clinically well except for one death from gestational autoimmune liver disease and another who developed necrotizing enterocolitis.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest in utero transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and possible persistent intestinal viral reservoirs in the newborns. Further investigation is required to understand the mechanisms and their clinical implications.

IMPACT: SARS-CoV-2 RNAs or Spike protein was detected in the stool of 11 out of 14 preterm newborns born to mothers with resolved COVID-19 weeks prior to delivery despite negative newborn nasal PCR swabs. These novel findings suggest risk of in utero SARS-CoV-2 transmission to the fetal intestine during gestation. The presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNAs and Spike protein in the intestines of newborns may potentially impact the development of the gut microbiome and the immune system; the long-term health impact on the preterm infants should be further investigated.

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Alternate JournalPediatr Res
PubMed ID35986143
PubMed Central IDPMC9388973

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