COVID-19 transmission between pregnant mom, baby is rare, doctors say

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — As the positivity rate of COVID-19 in children goes down, at least three newborns in Orange County have tested positive after contracting the virus from their positive mothers at birth, health officials said.

The youngest is just four days old.


In almost every county in Florida, a child under 12 months old has tested positive for COVID-19.

But Dr. Rachel Humphreys with AdventHealth said transmission between mom and baby is rare.

“The very few studies where they have been able to prove there was transmission but the babies were asymptomatic,” she said.

Read: Florida surpasses 400K cases of coronavirus, reports 136 new deaths

But it does happen, and doctors around the country are still trying to figure out the risk.

Information released by Nemours Hospital says it’s too early to tell how the coronavirus can spread to babies during pregnancy or birth. The virus has not been found in amniotic fluid or breast milk.

Dr. Humphreys said the chance there could be issues for babies after they are born to a positive mother is small.

“COVID-19 is incredibly hard to transmit to infants anyway,” she said. “Pregnant moms, the chance of transmission is less than 1%.”

Some hospitals are separating mother and child to protect the infant. But others, like AdventHealth, leave it up to the mother and give them a chance to just wear a mask and take other precautions.

Last week, the state pediatric report showed 31% of all children tested for COVID-19 statewide tested positive for COVID-19.

This week, 6,000 more children tested positive for the virus in Florida, but the positivity rate is now 13.4%, which Dr. Kenneth Alexander, chief of infectious diseases at Nemours Children’s Hospital, said is “good news.”

“There have been changes in that there has been an increase in numbers but what we have not seen is a big rise in disease mortality among children,” he said.

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Of the more than 23,000 children who tested positive for COVID-19, five have died, and they’ve all been 9 years or older.

But Dr. Alexander said children don’t transmit the virus “very effectively.”

Research shows children younger than 10 don’t spread the virus all that well, and children 10 and up transmit it more like adults do.

Online, people across the country say they are toying with the idea of having their healthy child play and interact with another child who has COVID-19 to spread the virus and build immunity.

Read: Orange County parents face deadline to choose back-to-school option for students

But Dr. Alexander said parents are not helping at all by doing this.

“I think it’s a dumb idea, and I think its dangerous and its selfish,” Alexander said.

Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.