Infected after holiday to Europe, pregnant S'pore mum gives birth to baby with Covid-19 antibodies

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A mother's journey from testing positive for Covid-19 when she was 10 weeks pregnant to birth.

SINGAPORE - A "dramatic" pregnancy brought on by getting Covid-19 when she was pregnant ended in tears of joy when Mrs Celine Ng-Chan, 31, gave birth to her second child earlier this month.

To the private tutor's relief, her son, Aldrin, was not only born free of Covid-19, he even has antibodies against the virus, according to his paediatrician.

Mrs Ng-Chan is one of a few women in Singapore who were infected with the coronavirus during their pregnancies to have given birth so far.

She said: "It's very interesting. His paediatrician said my Covid-19 antibodies are gone but Aldrin has Covid-19 antibodies.

"My doctor suspects I have transferred my Covid-19 antibodies to him during my pregnancy."

The Sunday Times understands Aldrin's antibodies suggest that he has immunity to the virus.

Weighing 3.5 kg at birth, he was born on Nov 7 at the National University Hospital (NUH), and looked exactly like his elder sister, Aldrina, 2, at her birth, Mrs Ng-Chan added.

"I have always wanted a boy as I resonate very well with boys, having three younger brothers in my family," she said.

Mrs Ng-Chan said her pregnancy was a dramatic one, as she, her mother and her daughter all contracted Covid-19 after returning from a family holiday to Europe in March. Her husband and father, who were on the trip as well, escaped infection.

Mrs Celine Ng-Chan and her two week old son Aldrin Zaccheus Chan. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Mrs Ng-Chan's mother, Madam Choy Wai Chee, 58, came close to death.

The office manager was hospitalised for four months and spent 29 days on a life support machine.

Mrs Ng-Chan and Aldrina were only mildly ill and were discharged from hospital after 2.5 weeks.

When she was diagnosed with Covid-19, Mrs Ng-Chan was 10 weeks pregnant.

She said: "I wasn't worried that Aldrin would get Covid-19 as I read that the transmission risk (from mother to the fetus) is very low."

She was also aware of another couple, Natasha and Pele Ling, who were expecting their first child when they both fell ill with Covid-19 in March.

Mrs Ling, a 29-year-old speech and language therapist, tested positive for the coronavirus in her 36th week of pregnancy in March.

She gave birth to Boaz on April 26 at the NUH. Baby Boaz was possibly the first baby born in Singapore with Covid-19 antibodies.

It is not known how many babies in Singapore have been born to women who had Covid-19 while they were pregnant.

Chairman of the obstetrics and gynaecology division at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), Associate Professor Tan Hak Koon, told The Straits Times that the number of pregnant women infected with Covid-19 under the hospital's care is "very low", and none has as yet given birth.

Prof Tan said guidelines published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the United Kingdom in October said current evidence suggests that transmission of Covid-19 from a pregnant woman to her baby during pregnancy or birth is uncommon.

Current evidence also shows that whether the newborn infant catches Covid-19 from his mother is not affected by the mode of delivery, feeding choice such as breast or bottle feeding, or if the mother and baby stayed in the same room after delivery.

At NUH, a spokesman said that babies born to women who have recovered from Covid-19 are assessed comprehensively by a team of doctors.

Generally, invasive testing for Covid-19 would not be required in a healthy asymptomatic baby if the mother had had Covid-19 earlier in her pregnancy and had completely recovered and subsequently tested negative for Covid-19, like Mrs Ng-Chan.

Without specifying numbers, the spokesman added that maternal and umbilical cord blood is processed using the standard polymerase chain reaction, and so far all the mother-newborn pairs have tested negative.

Mrs Ng-Chan said she was filled with joy and gratitude over the new addition to her family.

"My pregnancy and birth was smooth sailing despite being diagnosed with Covid-19 in my first trimester, which is the most unstable stage of the pregnancy. I'm very blessed to have Aldrin and he came out very healthy," she said.

"I feel relieved my Covid-19 journey is finally over now."

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