A recent study conducted at the New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center found a handful of new mothers who recently gave birth had tested positive for the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) prior to admission.
They, however, did not show any signs of symptoms. Such a patient is known as asymptomatic or for being a ‘silent carrier.’
The study found that between March 22 and April 4, 2020, among the total of 215 women who delivered infants, 33 tested positive for the virus. All women were screened for symptoms of COVID-19 upon admission. Twenty-nine of the 33 patients who were positive for SARS-CoV-2 at admission (87.9%) displayed no symptoms of COVID-19 at presentation. The study also noted that their first positive case of COVID-19 in a pregnant woman was in mid-March of this year.
One patient within the group was tested with a swab at admission and the test came back negative. However, she later became symptomatic postpartum and after retesting three days later, tested positive.
Importance of reporting an testing
The study stresses the likelihood of underreporting among asymptomatic patients due to false negatives, as well as the fact that those who would not know themselves to be carriers of the disease can thus unknowingly transmit the virus.
The experts also highlight the benefits of universal testing: “The potential benefits of a universal testing approach include the ability to use COVID-19 status to determine hospital isolation practices and bed assignments, inform neonatal care, and guide the use of personal protective equipment.” The study went on to state that if such data were available, it would provide a greater opportunity to protect mothers, infants as well as health teams.
New York, where the study was conducted, is the worst-hit state in the United States which has recorded a total of 214,648 cases and a death toll of 11,586 as of April 16.