L.A. County reports cases of newborns with COVID-19 for first time

Much is unknown about how the coronavirus can be passed from a mother to a newborn.
(Associated Press)

Los Angeles County officials on Wednesday reported the first cases of COVID-19 among newborns.

Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer reported that 1,200 pregnant women and girls between the ages of 14 and 52 have tested positive for the virus and two have died of complications. Of the 193 babies who were tested at birth, eight were positive.

The county has routinely updated COVID-19 numbers as it relates to pregnancies, but has never announced a positive case among an infant until now.


Of the women who tested positive, 80% were Latina — a community that has been disproportionately affected by the virus.

“This inquiry is a mirror image of what the Latinx community has experienced since the pandemic began,” Ferrer said last month.

About 79% of pregnant women who tested positive for the coronavirus were symptomatic. According to Ferrer, 25% tested positive during the first trimester of pregnancy, 35% during the second, 29% during the third and 11% while in labor.

Much is unknown about how the virus can be passed from a mother to a newborn. In July, researchers in Italy said signs of the virus were found in samples of umbilical cord blood, the placenta and, in one case, breast milk among 31 women with COVID-19 who delivered babies in March and April.

Ferrer recommended that new mothers who may be sick with the virus after giving birth should consider using a mask while breastfeeding or bottle-feeding.