Singapore – A woman who contracted the Covid-19 virus while pregnant gave birth to a healthy baby equipped with antibodies against the virus. The incident proved further the rarity of vertical transmission and passive immunity passed from mother to infant.
The story of Mrs Celine Ng-Chan was featured in straitstimes.com on Sunday (Nov 29). Mrs Ng-Chan is one of the few women in Singapore who tested positive for Covid-19 while pregnant.
The 31-year-old contracted the virus while 10 weeks pregnant in March after returning from a family holiday to Europe. Her daughter and mother were also infected with Covid-19 while her husband and father escaped contracting the virus.
Mrs Ng-Chan shared that her pregnancy was “a dramatic one” as her mother, Madam Choy Wai Chee, 58, came close to death. Mdm Chee was hospitalised for four months and went through 29 days on a life support machine. Mrs Ng-Chan and her daughter developed mild complications and were discharged from the hospital after 2.5 weeks, noted the straitstimes.com report.
“I wasn’t worried that Aldrin (the newborn son) would get Covid-19 as I read that the transmission risk is very low,” said Mrs Ng-Chan. Aldrin was born on Nov 7 at the National University Hospital (NUH).
The mother shared that Aldrin was born free of Covid-19 and also acquired her antibodies. “It’s very interesting. His paediatrician said my Covid-19 antibodies are gone, but Aldrin has Covid-19 antibodies,” she said. “My doctor suspects I have transferred my Covid-19 antibodies to him during my pregnancy.” The presence of antibodies is deemed an indication of Covid-19 immunity.
It has been reported that the transmission of the Covid-19 virus from mother to fetus is uncommon. A clinical study conducted in China deduced that so far, it appears that the fetus is very well protected from the passage of the virus from mother to child, also known as vertical transmission.
The natural features of the placenta, which produces molecules that stop the virus binding to placental cells, was linked to the improbability of vertical transmission, the study noted.
While a fetus is protected by the placental cells and membranes which limit infection, any antibodies the mother, who is infected by the virus, makes will pass to the fetus. The process also occurs through the placenta.
Also known as passive immunity, the antibodies create short-term protection from infectious agents that may appear during the last months of pregnancy and even for some months after the baby is born. A mother who breastfeeds and continue to possess antibodies will also pass down the passive immunity through her breastmilk.