SARS-CoV-2 in infant urine and fecal samples after in utero COVID-19 exposure

Pediatr Res. 2022 Aug;92(2):536-540. doi: 10.1038/s41390-021-01822-x. Epub 2021 Oct 30.


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a pandemic that has and will continue to affect many pregnant women. Knowledge regarding the risk of vertical transmission is limited. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) of nasopharyngeal swabs typically have been used to confirm the diagnosis among infants, but whether the virus can be detected in other biological specimens, and therefore potentially transmitted in other ways, is unknown. Positive SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR has been reported from feces and urine from adult patients. We hypothesize that the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in infant urine and fecal samples after prenatal COVID-19 exposure is low.

Methods: We examined the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA using RT-PCR in urine and fecal samples among 42 infants born to SARS-CoV-2-infected mothers during different stages of pregnancy.

Results: A urine sample was collected from 39 of 42 infants and fecal samples from all 42 infants shortly after birth. Although the majority of the women had the symptomatic disease (85.6%), we were unable to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus from any infant urine or fecal samples.

Conclusions: SARS-CoV-2 was not detected in infant urine or feces after maternal infection during pregnancy, providing further evidence for low rates of perinatal transmission.

Impact: SARS-CoV-2 was not detected in the urine or feces of infants of mothers with COVID-19 during various time points in pregnancy. This study provides further evidence for low rates of perinatal transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Results help to provide guidance on perinatal care practices for infants exposed to COVID-19 in utero.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19*
  • Feces
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / epidemiology
  • RNA, Viral
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • RNA, Viral
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase