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The case of a newborn affected by the mother’s COVID infection: Amrita School of Medicine Professors publish a finding on COVID-19 causing Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, in The Lancet – a top medical journal.
Connecting what happened to a baby born from a mother who had COVID, Amrita School of Medicine Professors recently published a scientific study on a life-threatening condition involving a newborn as a consequence of its mother’s COVID infection. This unique case report was recently published in the leading medical journal, The Lancet(link is external), and has attracted attention from medical experts across the world.
A 24-days old baby was presented to the Pediatric Cardiology unit at Amrita Hospital, Kochi, during the last week of December 2020. The baby girl was intensely sick, and the heart was hardly contracting- at barely 10% pumping efficiency. She had been referred with a suspicion of a severe birth defect of the heart. But, when doctors at Amrita did the Echocardiogram, they found that the heart did not have any structural birth defects, yet the heart was functioning very poorly. The baby was soon put on the ventilator and was shifted into the Pediatric Cardiac ICU. When the blood reports came in the next couple of hours, they showed that not just the heart, but the liver and kidneys were badly affected too. The doctors were puzzled since they could not identify the reason as to why the baby was so ill. Most of the common causes of such illness were being ruled out, one-by-one.
Professor of Pediatric Cardiology, Dr. Mahesh Kappanayil, took the lead in evaluating and managing the patient along with the team of pediatric cardiac intensive care specialists. It was then that the doctors discovered that the baby’s mother had COVID when she was about 31 weeks pregnant. This made the doctors assess a possible connection between the mother’s past COVID infection and the baby’s current illness. ‘Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children ‘or MIS-C is a new disease that has been discovered and described in the past few months where children develop complications after few weeks of being exposed to COVID-19, but this had never been described to occur in newborn babies.
Amrita School of Medicine Professor, Dr. Suma Balan, Pediatric Rheumatologist, then brought her considerable expertise in solving this difficult medical puzzle. Even as the child’s condition was deteriorating, the next set of test results seemed to confirm that the baby had a severe inflammatory condition, possibly related to exposure to COVID-19 during the pregnancy. The baby was immediately started on specific medicines that were effective. The prompt diagnosis and initiation of precise treatment resulted in stabilisation of the baby’s condition, and the beginning of steady improvement. The heart, liver and kidney functions began to improve and the baby could be taken off the #ventilator after about 10 days. The baby’s life could be saved, and she was finally discharged from the hospital after nearly one month of hospitalisation.
Managing such a difficult case required ingenuity, quick thinking and the combined efforts of a number of specialists from different disciplines – Pediatric Cardiology, Rheumatology, Intensive Care, Dermatology, Microbiology and many others, in addition to the meticulous care provided by nurses, respiratory therapists and other support staff. The authors acknowledged that the hospital administration provided all necessary support as well. Dr. Atul Gupta, a renowned authority on Pediatric Respiratory Medicine at King’s College, London, who published the first case of a newborn infected with COVID-19 after birth, provided valuable inputs to the Amrita team.
This case highlights the need to raise awareness about protecting pregnant women and children from COVID-19. Safety studies for COVID vaccines in pregnancy are currently underway.