COVID-19 in Newborns and Infants-Low Risk of Severe Disease: Silver Lining or Dark Cloud?

Am J Perinatol. 2020 Jun;37(8):845-849. doi: 10.1055/s-0040-1710512. Epub 2020 May 7.


One hundred years after the 1918 influenza pandemic, we now face another pandemic with the severe acute respiratory syndrome-novel coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). There is considerable variability in the incidence of infection and severe disease following exposure to SARS-CoV-2. Data from China and the United States suggest a low prevalence of neonates, infants, and children, with those affected not suffering from severe disease. In this article, we speculate different theories why this novel agent is sparing neonates, infants, and young children. The low severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection in this population is associated with a high incidence of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic infection making them efficient carriers. KEY POINTS: · There is a low prevalence of novel coronavirus disease in neonates, infants, and children.. · The fetal hemoglobin may play a protective role against coronavirus in neonates.. · Immature angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE2) interferes with coronavirus entry into the cells..

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2
  • Asymptomatic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Betacoronavirus* / isolation & purification
  • Betacoronavirus* / physiology
  • COVID-19
  • Child, Preschool
  • Coronavirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections* / metabolism
  • Coronavirus Infections* / virology
  • Fetal Hemoglobin / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pandemics* / statistics & numerical data
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A / metabolism*
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / metabolism
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / virology
  • Prevalence
  • Protective Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Fetal Hemoglobin
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A
  • ACE2 protein, human
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2