High on antibodies, newborns suffer MIS too, findings show | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: In findings that have raised eyebrows in the medical community, Covid-19 antibodies are being detected in several newborns in Bengaluru hospitals and, what is worse, babies are also battling multi-inflammatory syndrome (MIS) which is normally seen in children who have recovered from the coronavirus infection.
Bowring and Lady Curzon Medical College Hospital alone has had four newborns with antibodies. Their mothers were positive. However, in two cases in Manipal Hospitals, the mothers did not appear to have Covid during pregnancy, but their babies had antibodies.
“We did not have such cases during the first wave,” said Dr N Karthik Nagesh, chairman and head of Neonatology unit, Manipal Hospitals. “It’s a serious complication, so much so that we are calling it multi-inflammatory syndrome in newborns (MISN). It’s possible that in the two cases, the mothers were asymptomatic and were not tested for Covid.”
Dr Nagesh said MISN is peculiar as the mother passes on antibodies to the baby.
In one case, a boy’s oxygen level began falling 18-20 hours after birth and he looked ill and breathless. The boy was healthy at the time of birth. It was a normal delivery for the mother. “The mother had no history of Covid symptoms and had tested negative on the day of her delivery,” said Dr Nagesh. “When the baby took ill, we conducted a Covid antibody test. Interestingly, the mother also tested positive for antibodies.”
Inflammatory markers were noticed in the baby and cardiac enzymes were abnormally high. He also had mild cardiac dysfunction. The baby recovered and was discharged after being treated with methylprednisolone, a steroid used in severe Covid cases.
From mother to foetus
A baby girl though, is still waging a grim battle. Weighing less than 1kg and born in the 29th week, she also tested positive for antibodies. She was in a near-death situation on the 6th day and had very high inflammatory markers besides poor heart function. She is currently in neonatal ICU (NICU).
Dr Chikkanarasa Reddy, head of paediatrics, Bowring and Lady Curzon Medical College Hospital said these are typical cases of fetal inflammatory response syndrome (FIRS), where infection is passed on from mother to foetus. “This is a new phenomenon not seen in the first wave,” said Dr Reddy.
He said increased respiratory rate and difficulty in breathing are tell-tale symptoms which subside after two days of treatment. He said MIS can also present in the form of feed intolerance, septicaemia (infection in the blood) and lethargy.
All four babies at Bowring were born in the past 10 days and are on ventilator support. One, a girl, was born at HSIS Gosha hospital. Two newborns with MIS are in NICU. Their mothers are doing fine.
In the fourth baby, a twoday-old boy, doctors suspect intestinal gangrene, a post Covid-complication that accompanies blood clots in the intestine. The baby has high antibody levels and was born to a Covid-positive mother.
Dr Nagesh, who with Indian Academy of Paediatrics for Karnataka is drafting guidelines on treating newborns for Covid in preparation for the third wave, said he expected more MISN cases in the days ahead. “We need to spread awareness in the medical community in order to detect such cases quickly and initiate treatment,” he said.

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Sagar Biswas

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