Skip to main content
Back to news homepage

RCOG responds to study of newborn babies and Covid-19

News 10 November 2020

A new study has found the risk of severe Covid-19 infection for newborn babies is low

New research by Imperial College London and the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford has analysed Covid-19 infections in newborns across the UK.

The study, published in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, traced all babies less than 29 days old with Covid-19 across the UK, who needed to be admitted into hospital.

The study found 66 babies required hospital treatment for Covid-19 infection in this period. This is the equivalent of 1 in 1785 births, or 0.06 per cent of births.

None of the babies in the group died from the virus,  and when the data was analysed nearly 90 per cent of the babies had fully recovered from the infection, and had been discharged from hospital.

Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:

"We welcome the findings of this study that suggests the risk of newborn babies developing severe Covid-19 infection is rare. 

"The pandemic has led to many expectant parents feeling anxious and stressed about the risk to their babies and we hope this study will go some way to reassuring them that the risk is low and if their baby does contract the virus then they will make a full recovery.

"Existing evidence suggests that whether or not a newborn baby gets the virus is not affected by mode of birth, feeding choice or whether a woman and her baby stay together.

"While the ​overall percentage of babies requiring hospital treatment for Covid-19 infections was low (0.6%), we are concerned that such a high proportion were from BAME groups - a disparity also seen in pregnant women and new mothers. We believe an urgent investigation is required to understand these inequalities.  

"Maternity and newborn care is essential, and we would urge any pregnant woman or new parent who is concerned about their or their baby's wellbeing to seek help from their midwife, hospital or GP as soon as possible."