In a rare case, newborn triplets tested positive for the coronavirus just hours after birth in a hospital in the central state of San Luis Potosí, health authorities announced on Monday.
The babies, two boys and a girl, were born to a mother who tested positive for the coronavirus while pregnant but showed no symptoms, officials at the Dr. Ignacio Morones Prieto Central Hospital stated. The father also tested positive and was also asymptomatic.
The triplets were tested shortly after being born on June 17 and before they had nursed, ruling out the possibility of transmission via breast milk.
Although all three are positive, one of the boys was born with pneumonia and paralytic ileus, a condition that causes obstruction of the intestine, and is receiving medical care. The babies are being kept in incubators due to their low birth weights, and in isolation from other newborns.
“This unprecedented situation, from a scientific point of view, occurred where triplets were identified and their tests for Polymerase Chain Reaction were confirmed on Saturday,” said Miguel Ángel Lutzow Steiner, a spokesman for the state’s Ministry of Health.
The hospital’s medical staff suspect the babies were infected in the womb, with the virus traveling through the placenta. A post-birth infection, they say, would need at least a two to seven-day incubation period before becoming detectable.
Health Minister Mónica Liliana Rangel Martínez also ruled out that the possibility that the babies could have been infected in the hospital.
“What strikes us, in this case, is that on the day they were born all three babies tested positive for coronavirus, which rules out any possibility that they have contracted it through a hospital infection,” she said in an interview with the newspaper Excélsior.
Another newborn in San Luis Potosí has tested positive for the coronavirus, but in that case testing was conducted two days after birth.
Mexican health authorities say that this is the first time in the world that vertical transmission of the coronavirus is suspected in a case of multiple births.