A woman in her 36th week of pregnancy gave birth to a dead baby on Friday at Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba.
She had gone to the hospital after she stopped feeling fetal movements. Laboratory tests performed after the baby’s birth showed that he was infected with novel coronavirus.
The hospital said that it suspects there is a connection between the baby’s death and the virus.
The woman, 26, has a mild case of the virus. She was not vaccinated.
This is the second such case in Israel and one of only a handful worldwide of a fetus contracting the virus in utero.
A similar case occurred earlier this month at Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital when a woman who was 25 weeks pregnant gave birth to a stillborn baby. That child, also, caught the virus from his mother.
Prof. Arnon Wiznitzer, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva, told The Jerusalem Post that fetuses contracting the virus through the placenta, called vertical transmission, is very unusual. To date, in only between 1% and 3% of cases have a pregnant mother directly passed on the virus to her baby. However, he said it is an argument for pregnant women getting vaccinated in any trimester.
The news of the baby’s death came against the backdrop of a report by the Health Ministry over the weekend that the number of pregnant women and children in the hospital has spiked to unprecedented levels during this third wave.
As of Saturday morning, the Health Ministry showed that 39 pregnant women or new mothers were hospitalized, 10 of them in critical condition, eight of them intubated, including two who were connected to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine.
An ECMO machine is a heart-lung machine that removes carbon dioxide from a patient’s blood and sends its back oxygen-filled.
There are 25 children under the age of 18 in the hospital, most of them who had underlying medical conditions before contracting COVID-19.
Five of them were newborns. Three children were in serious or critical condition.