The Impact of COVID-19 Infection on Labor and Delivery, Newborn Nursery, and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: Prospective Observational Data from a Single Hospital System

Am J Perinatol. 2020 Aug;37(10):1022-1030. doi: 10.1055/s-0040-1713416. Epub 2020 Jun 13.


Objective: Since its emergence in late 2019, severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), the novel coronavirus that causes novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has spread globally. Within the United States, some of the most affected regions have been New York, and Northern New Jersey. Our objective is to describe the impact of COVID-19 in a large delivery service in Northern New Jersey, including its effects on labor and delivery (L&D), the newborn nursery, and the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Materials and methods: Between April 21, 2020 and May 5, 2020, a total of 78 mothers (3.6% of deliveries) were identified by screening history or examination to either be COVID-19 positive or possible positives (persons under investigation). Of the mothers who were tested after admission to L&D, 28% tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

Discussion: Isolation between mother and infant was recommended in 62 cases, either because the mother was positive for SARS-CoV-2 or because the test was still pending. Fifty-four families (87%) agreed to isolation and separation. The majority of infants, 51 (94%), were initially isolated on the newborn nursery. Six needed NICU admission. No infants had clinical evidence of symptomatic COVID-19 infection. Fourteen infants whose mothers were positive for SARS-CoV-2, and who had been separated from the mother at birth were tested for SARS-CoV-2 postnatally. All were negative.

Results: COVID-19 posed a significant burden to mothers, infants, and staff over the 5-week study period. The yield from screening mothers for COVID-19 on L&D was high. Most families accepted the need for postnatal isolation and separation of mother and newborn.

Conclusion: Our study suggests that the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from mother to her fetus/newborn seems to be uncommon if appropriate separation measures are performed at birth.

Key points: · The yield of targeted testing for SARS-CoV-2, on mothers on Labor and Delivery is high.. · Agreement to separation of mothers and infants to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was high.. · The incidence of symptomatic COVID-19 in newborns is low, if appropriate separation occurs at birth..

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Asymptomatic Diseases
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / statistics & numerical data
  • Cohort Studies
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control
  • Delivery, Obstetric / adverse effects
  • Delivery, Obstetric / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / statistics & numerical data
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Labor, Obstetric
  • Male
  • New Jersey
  • Nurseries, Infant
  • Pandemics / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / prevention & control*
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Prospective Studies