Dallas mom transmits COVID-19 to unborn daughter, hospital says

It appears a Dallas newborn got sick from the coronavirus while still in the womb.

Parkland Hospital says this may be the first case of its kind in the United States.

The mom and newborn baby weren't allowed to see each other for weeks.

Parkland believes the infant was infected before she was born. It’s the hospital's first delivery where the baby was already infected. Mom and daughter were separated for 20 days.

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Wendy Figueroa had COVID-19 when she gave birth to her daughter, Alexa, on May 2. Alexa, who was born premature, was immediately separated from her mother.

“Wow. Here’s a mom who’s sick and cannot see her baby,” said Marjorie Quint-Bouzid, Senior Vice President of Nursing for Women’s Infant Specialty Health

The newborn tested positive for the virus. Parkland believes she contracted it while inside her mother’s womb.

“Thus far, it’s the only case we know about in the country,” Quint-Bouzid said.

Parkland says the mother went to the hospital’s COVID-19 unit while the child was in a NICU area designated for infected newborns.

The hospital says it’s delivered babies for more than 170 COVID-positive moms. Only six of those babies tested positive.

In Alexa’s case, the hospital found the virus in Figueroa’s placenta, which delivers oxygen and nutrients to a growing baby.

“We literally had to hold on to placenta until we were able to get ahold of a lab who was able to get a test to test placentas,” Quint-Bouzid said.

Alexa is also the only newborn at Parkland who has shown symptoms, including fever and respiratory issues. That combined with being premature terrified her mother, who just wanted to hold her.

Figueroa says they are both doing great. She says when she finally was able to hold her baby after 20 days, her prayers were answered.

“I think there was not a dry eye in the room,” Quint-Bouzid said. “We were all just delighted.”

Parkland says it’s too early to tell about any potential health risks down the road for the newborn, but staff will continue to follow up.

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