An infant has died as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States.
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana, newborn was born prematurely because her mother was suffering from intense symptoms of the contagious respiratory virus, East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Beau Clark said Monday.
While the baby has not yet tested positive for COVID-19, Clark said that officials are in agreement “that this would be considered a COVID-19 related death because of the positive nature of the mother,” who is still in the hospital on a ventilator.
“We had a pregnant mother who went to the hospital that was having COVID-19-related symptoms. Shortness of breath, fever, etc. She ultimately ended up having to be placed on the ventilator because of the profound nature of the shortness of breath and has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus,” Clark explained in a Facebook Live briefing on Monday.
“Unfortunately … she went into preterm labor and ultimately delivered the baby prematurely,” the coroner continued. “And in doing so, the baby, because of the extreme prematurity, did not survive.”
The mother delivered more than three months early, The Advocate reported Monday.
Clark added: “The child as of now has not tested positive for COVID-19. However, the mother was. But in speaking with the state epidemiologist, we all agree, myself included, and the doctors involved in the care, that this would be considered a COVID-19 related death because of the positive nature of the mother in this scenario. Had she not been COVID-19 positive, had not required [ventilator] support, had not had the shortness of breath … likely she would not have gone into preterm labor and there would have been a different outcome.”
“This is an incredibly sad case,” he said, pointing out the importance of social distancing and following stay at home orders.
While the baby’s death Monday is considered to be the first infant fatality due to COVID-19 in Louisiana, it is not the first infant death in the U.S.
“We would hope that this would never happen here in our state but it has, and we’re certainly left with dealing with that issue,” Clark said in his briefing Monday.
Last week, a six-week-old who had tested positive for COVID-19 died in Connecticut.
“It is with heartbreaking sadness today that we can confirm the first pediatric fatality in Connecticut linked to #COVID19. A 6-week-old newborn from the Hartford area was brought unresponsive to a hospital late last week and could not be revived,” Governor Ned Lamont shared on Twitter on April 1.
“Testing confirmed last night that the newborn was COVID-19 positive,” the governor added. “This is absolutely heartbreaking. We believe this is one of the youngest lives lost anywhere due to complications relating to COVID-19.”
Because so little is known about COVID-19, there “currently are no recommendations specific to pregnant women regarding the evaluation or management of COVID-19,” according to the The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
However, the ACOG says on its website that because pregnant women are at a greater risk from other respiratory illnesses like influenza and SARS, “pregnant women should be considered an at-risk population for COVID-19.”
As of Monday, there are at least 14,867 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Louisiana, with 512 deaths related to the virus. There are currently 1,809 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the state, and 563 of those patients are on ventilators, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.
Nationwide, there are at least 357,036 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Monday, with 10,522 related to the virus.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.
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