A stillborn baby whose mother had coronavirus likely died after being infected with the disease through the placenta, Israeli doctors say.
A 29-year-old woman in her 25th week of pregnancy arrived at the Assuta Hospital in Ashdod last weekend after suffering a two-day fever and coronavirus symptoms, local media say.
She tested positive for Covid and tests after birth revealed the child also had the virus, the Times of Israel reports.
It is the first known incident of its kind in Israel, and a rare global occurrence, the country’s Health Ministry said.
Head of the Infectious Disease Department at the hospital, Dr Tal Brosh, told the Ynet news site the foetus had been infected ‘through the placenta and with a very high degree of certainty, [we can say] died due to coronavirus’.
A 29-year-old woman in her 25th week of pregnancy arrived at the Assuta Hospital in Ashdod last weekend after suffering a two-day fever and coronavirus symptoms, reports say (stock image)
Dr Brosh added that they had seen three stillbirths of women who were infected with coronavirus, but had not found the unborn babies with the disease before this incident.
‘If the mother had been vaccinated in the first or second trimester, this could have been avoided,’ Dr Brosh said.
Head of the Infectious Disease Department at the hospital, Dr Tal Brosh, said the foetus had been infected ‘through the placenta and with a very high degree of certainty, [we can say] died due to coronavirus’
The mother said she had been as careful as she could be to avoid infection, and she was grateful to the medics who ‘did their best and were supportive’.
Director of the maternity ward Dr Yossi Tobin agreed that it was probably the death was caused by Covid, due to the baby being infected in utero.
‘It was an intrauterine infection of the fetus, which can cause placental infection and death,’ Dr Tobin said.
‘This is a rare occurrence because a baby is usually infected with coronavirus after birth, as a result of contact with the mother.
‘The fact that we were able to find out that they were already positive in the womb indicates a high probability that [the fetus] died as a result of coronavirus.’
The hospital has not revealed if another potential cause had been ruled out.
Israel is so far the only country to be able to prove an effect of its vaccination programme, with ongoing studies suggesting two doses of Pfizer’s jab could cut the risk of illness by 94 per cent for over-55s.
In trials the vaccine was 95 per cent effective and it is expected to be at least that good at stopping Covid deaths.
Israel is only using the Pfizer vaccine and insists people must get the jab three weeks apart. Britain has said people will get their second shot 12 weeks after the first.
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