Vaginal delivery in SARS-CoV-2-infected pregnant women in Northern Italy: a retrospective analysis

BJOG. 2020 Aug;127(9):1116-1121. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.16278. Epub 2020 May 28.


Objective: To report mode of delivery and immediate neonatal outcome in women infected with COVID-19.

Design: Retrospective study.

Setting: Twelve hospitals in northern Italy.

Participants: Pregnant women with COVID-19-confirmed infection who delivered.

Exposure: COVID 19 infection in pregnancy.

Methods: SARS-CoV-2-infected women who were admitted and delivered from 1 to 20 March 2020 were eligible. Data were collected from the clinical records using a standardised questionnaire on maternal general characteristics, any medical or obstetric co-morbidity, course of pregnancy, clinical signs and symptoms, treatment of COVID 19 infection, mode of delivery, neonatal data and breastfeeding.

Main outcome and measures: Data on mode of delivery and neonatal outcome.

Results: In all, 42 women with COVID-19 delivered at the participating centres; 24 (57.1%, 95% CI 41.0-72.3) delivered vaginally. An elective caesarean section was performed in 18/42 (42.9%, 95% CI 27.7-59.0) cases: in eight cases the indication was unrelated to COVID-19 infection. Pneumonia was diagnosed in 19/42 (45.2%, 95% CI 29.8-61.3) cases: of these, 7/19 (36.8%, 95% CI 16.3-61.6) required oxygen support and 4/19 (21.1%, 95% CI 6.1-45.6) were admitted to a critical care unit. Two women with COVID-19 breastfed without a mask because infection was diagnosed in the postpartum period: their newborns tested positive for SARS-Cov-2 infection. In one case, a newborn had a positive test after a vaginal operative delivery.

Conclusions: Although postpartum infection cannot be excluded with 100% certainty, these findings suggest that vaginal delivery is associated with a low risk of intrapartum SARS-Cov-2 transmission to the newborn.

Tweetable abstract: This study suggests that vaginal delivery may be associated with a low risk of intrapartum SARS-Cov-2 transmission to the newborn.

Keywords: COVID-19; delivery; transmission.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission*
  • Delivery, Obstetric / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical*
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / transmission*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / virology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vagina / virology