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Clinical Characteristics, Maternal and Neonatal Outcomes of COVID-19 Positive Pregnant Mothers at a Tertiary Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa

Author(s): Tanusha Devi Ramdin, Rossella Marina Bandini, Michael Radomsky, Shastra Avendra Bhoora, Daynia Elizabeth Ballot

Background: The global spread of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has been sudden shock to the world and resulted in many questions that remain unanswered. Limited data has been published in low-middle-income country settings (LMICS).

Objectives: To describe the clinical characteristics and outcome of mothers and neonates delivered from COVID-19 positive mothers, and to identify the incidence of COVID-19 positive neonates.

Methods: A prospective, descriptive study, from 1 August 2020 to 31 March 2021 conducted at a tertiary hospital, in Johannesburg. All neonates born to mothers that were COVID-19 positive and that required admission to the neonatal unit were included. Informed consent was obtained from mothers prior to enrolment.

Results: A total of 111 COVID-19 positive pregnant women delivered neonates at the tertiary hospital. In this study, only 28 of the 111 (25%) neonates born to COVID-19 positive mothers were admitted. The majority of the COVID-19 pregnant mothers were asymptomatic or had mild symptomatic disease (80%). Two (2/111) (2%) mothers required ICU admission and three (3/111) (3%) of them demised. In relation to neonatal outcomes, the majority of the neonates were delivered at a gestational age of 35 weeks with a birth weight of 2400 grams .The most common symptom was respiratory distress (89%). The one (3%) neonate that tested positive for COVID-19 was born moderately preterm with a low birth weight and respiratory distress syndrome. Two (2/28) (7%) neonates demised, however the cause of death was not related to COVID-19. All the remaining (26/28) (93%) neonates were discharged and were well on follow up.

Conclusion: Our study has shown that the risk of neonatal transmission from pregnant COVID-19 mothers is relatively low, and the majority of neonatal disease ranged from asymptomatic to mildly symptomatic disease. Further research efforts are essential to improve neonatal care in LMICS.

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