Rooming-in, Breastfeeding and Neonatal Follow-up of Infants Born to Mothers with COVID-19

Isabel Brito, Rita Sousa, Bruno Sanches, João Franco, Susana Marcelino, Anselmo Costa

Abstract


Introduction: Due to growing evidence suggesting COVID-19 may have a benign course in the newborn, a number of guidelines supporting rooming-in and breastfeeding were developed. The main aim of the study was to assess the safety of this approach, through the risk of developing severe neonatal infection.
Material and Methods: Prospective observational study from April 2020 to February 2021 on the approach and neonatal follow-up of infants born to mothers with COVID-19 at the time of delivery in a hospital with advanced neonatal care, where rooming in and breastfeeding were promoted whenever possible. We collected data during hospital admission and over the phone during the neonatal period.
Results: We included 77 infants born to mothers with COVID-19 (3.8% of newborns born during the time of study), median gestational age 39 weeks + 5 days and median birth weight 3270 g; 9% were born premature (versus 12% born premature among newborns born during the time of study). Rooming-in took place in all of them although 4% were briefly admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; 88% were discharged home up to day three, 97% were breastfed at the time of discharge and 90% were still breastfed by the end of the neonatal period. We completed neonatal follow-up of 63 newborns, eight of them developed COVID-associated symptoms, three with need of medical evaluation; 40% had no medical assessment after being discharged. Out of 77, 5% of infants were infected with SARS-CoV-2 (total of four, one mild, three asymptomatic), with no significant differences during hospital stay or follow-up.
Discussion: Neonatal infection was uncommon and mild, and there was no increase in prematurity. Rooming-in and breastfeeding were safe and should be promoted whenever clinically possible. Follow-up care after hospital discharge needs improvement.
Conclusion: Infants born to mothers with COVID-19 were safely roomed in with their mothers and exclusively breastfed.


Keywords


Breast Feeding; COVID-19; Infant, Newborn; Portugal; Rooming-in Care; SARS-CoV-2

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