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134 pregnant women in L.A. tested positive for coronavirus, but none of their babies

L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

COVID-19 has hit all walks of life in Los Angeles County, from wealthy enclaves to working-class neighborhoods, as well as prisons and nursing homes.

Officials have warned that the most vulnerable individuals to developing serious effects from the novel coronavirus include women who are pregnant. But little is known about how pregnant women have fared since the pandemic began, as their numbers are not typically broken out in overall case counts.

On Monday, L.A. County officials addressed this little-discussed segment of the population. In the county that has recorded more than 32,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 1,500 deaths, roughly 134 pregnant women have tested positive, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

There have been 29 live births among those women, and one stillbirth. Twenty-four infants were tested at birth, including one set of twins, and none tested positive for the virus.

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More than 82% of the 134 women who tested positive were symptomatic.

“To all our brand-new residents of L.A. County, we’re so happy to welcome you to our community,” Ferrer said.

The results indicate that it is unlikely for a pregnant mother to pass the virus to her baby during pregnancy, a belief that has been expressed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A newborn, however, may be susceptible to person-to-person spread.

A low number of babies have tested positive for the virus shortly after birth, the CDC has said. It’s unknown if these infants contracted the virus before or after birth.

The virus has not been detected in amniotic fluid, breast milk or other “maternal samples.”


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