According to a recent global investigation, most babies born to COVID-19 mothers were separated after birth, resulting in low breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact rates during the epidemic's peak.
According to a new global study, most babies born to COVID-19 mothers were separated after birth, resulting in low breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact rates during the outbreak's peak.
COVID-19 transmission from mother to baby was relatively rare and generally mild when it occurred, according to the Murdoch Children's Research Institute. Despite this, almost half of babies did not receive breast milk, with only a quarter being breastfed, and the majority of mothers and babies having no skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth.
Professor David Tingay of Murdoch Children said the largest research on global family-centered care during COVID-19 highlighted how ensuring excellent infection control measures had a significant impact on neonatal care over the last few years.
"Almost half of all newborns in the study were denied early and close contact with their mothers, demonstrating how difficult it was to reconcile infection control measures with mother-baby bonding recommendations, especially in the first year of the epidemic," said the researcher. Eventually, clinicians changed to permit more family-centered care as the epidemic progressed, especially the use of breastmilk."
In the EPICENTRE study, 692 babies were born to mothers with SARS-CoV-2 in 13 neonatal intensive care units across 10 countries, including Brazil, France, Italy, and the United States.
54 percent of newborns were separated from their mother, and only 7 percent had physical contact before separation. Maternal breastmilk feeding rates were low at 53 percent, with just 24 percent exclusively fed with their mother's breastmilk over the years (northern hemisphere seasons).
Additionally, 73% of children separated from their mothers were admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit or special care nursery without any symptomatic or underlying illness to be admitted. Only 5 percent of babies born to infected mothers tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, and most cases were mild.
Georgie Dowse, a researcher at Murdoch Children, said the benefits of family-centered care during the perinatal period for both mothers and babies are well-established.
"Family-centred care methods such as breastfeeding, co-habitation, and skin-to-skin contact are critical to the well-being of mothers and neonates, even those who require intensive care," said the researcher.
Breastfeeding assists a newborn with nutrition and helps the baby develop strong bonds with their infant. These include asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, and sudden infant death syndrome.
When updating infection control guidelines, Professor Tingay advised that the impact of COVID-19 on family-centered care should be taken into account.
"The COVID-19 epidemic has created unprecedented challenges for healthcare services, including the provision of family-centered care," said the author. Guidelines for the management of neonates born to infected mothers were initially formulated in the context of many unknowns and often varied and based on expert opinion rather than evidence.
“An encouraging finding was the increase in family-centered care as the epidemic progressed, even when the mother was very sick herself.” We are hopeful that doctors and nurses will apply the lessons learned from the epidemic to better family-centered care whenever a mother or baby is unwell.
"We strongly encourage health organizations to continue to adopt family-centered care methods during the future stages of this epidemic to ensure that neonates and mothers receive the best possible health outcomes."
Dowse G, Perkins E, Chidini G, Elsayed YN, Pilar-Orive FJ, Torpiano P, Buonsenso D, Medina A, Polito A, Brouwer CNM, De Luca D, and Tingay DG on behalf of the ESPNIC COVID-19 Paediatric and Neonatal (EPICENTRE) Registry, 21 February 2023