The risks of separating babies from their mothers at birth is greater than those posed by them becoming infected with COVID-19, according to Australian research out today.
Adjunct Associate Professor Karleen Gribble from Western Sydney University has reviewed numerous studies into the coronavirus in newborns from around the world.
“So far, we have every indication that it is rare for infants to contract the virus and – if they are COVID-19 positive – they tend to only experience mild symptoms and recover well,” Associate Professor Gribble said.
“In contrast, research clearly demonstrates there are significant, ongoing health and psychological implications if infants are separated from their mothers.”
As well as preventing distress to new parents, skin-to-skin contact between a newborn and their mother in the hours after birth has been demonstrated to have numerous medical benefits for infants, including developing a healthy immune response and promoting successful breastfeeding.
The World Health Organisation has since published guidelines recommending mothers with COVID-19 continue to breastfeed.
Associate Professor Gribble noted that, despite these recommendations from WHO, many hospitals including those in Australia were implementing policies that restrict mothers’ access to their babies.
“The intent of such policies is to protect infants, but the research is clear that the overall result is harm.”