A woman who contracted COVID-19 during pregnancy has given birth to a baby boy with antibodies against the virus.
Celine Ng-Chan, 31, was 10 weeks pregnant when she found out she was infected with the coronavirus following a family holiday to Europe in March. She gave birth to a healthy son, Aldrin, earlier this month.
“It’s very interesting. His paediatrician said my COVID-19 antibodies are gone but Aldrin has COVID-19 antibodies,” she told The Straits Times. “My doctor suspects I have transferred my COVID-19 antibodies to him during my pregnancy.”
Ng-Chan is one of several women in Singapore to have contracted coronavirus during pregnancy. However, it is not yet known whether a mother could pass the virus on to her foetus or her baby during pregnancy or delivery — nor whether the antibodies detected in Aldrin’s blood make him immune to COVID-19.
“It is still unknown whether the presence of these antibodies in a newborn baby confers a degree of protection against COVID-19 infection, much less the duration of protection,” Associate Professor Tan Hak Koon of the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital told The Straits Times.
He further noted that, according to guidelines recently published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the United Kingdom, current evidence indicates that transmission of COVID-19 from a pregnant woman to her baby during pregnancy or birth is uncommon.
The active virus has not been found in samples of fluid around the baby in the womb or in breast milk. There have, however, been cases of babies contracting COVID at a very young age.
In early February, a Chinese newborn was found to have the virus just 30 hours after being born, although it was unclear if it had been transmitted before or after birth. And, in July, a French study found what researchers believed to be the first case of a baby contracting COVID-19 while still in its mother's womb, becoming infected when the virus crossed the placenta. It went on to make a full recovery.
Ng-Chan and her son are now part of a study investigating how COVID-19 might affect the health of pregnant women and their babies.
“I guess being one of the few pregnant mums in Singapore to have COVID during pregnancy, I think it’s very important now to be part of the research so that we can find out more and maybe fight the virus better,” she said.
“I'm very blessed to have Aldrin and he came out very healthy. I feel relieved my COVID-19 journey is finally over now.”
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