Vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2: a systematic review of systematic reviews

Salihu S. Musa, Umar M. Bello, Shi Zhao, Zainab U. Abdullahi, Muhammad A. Lawan, Daihai He*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


The COVID-19 pandemic has hugely impacted global public health and economy. The COVID-19 has also shown potential impacts on maternal perinatal and neonatal outcomes. This systematic review aimed to summarize the evidence from existing systematic reviews about the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infections on maternal perinatal and neonatal outcomes. We searched Pub-Med, MEDLINE, Embase, and Web of Science in accordance with PRISMA guidelines, from 1 December 2019 to 7 July 2021, for published review studies that included case reports, primary studies, clinical practice guidelines, overviews, case-control studies, and observational studies. Systematic reviews that reported the plausibility of mother-to-child transmission of COVID-19 (also known as vertical transmission), maternal perinatal and neonatal outcomes, and review studies that ad-dressed the effect of SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy were also included. We identified 947 citations, of which 69 studies were included for further analysis. Most (> 70%) of the mother-to-child infection was likely due to environmental exposure, although a significant proportion (about 20%) was attributable to potential vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Further results of the review in-dicated that the mode of delivery of pregnant women infected with SARS-CoV-2 could not increase or decrease the risk of infection for the newborns (outcomes), thereby emphasizing the significance of breastfeeding. The issue of maternal perinatal and neonatal outcomes with SARS-CoV-2 infection continues to worsen during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, increasing maternal and neonatal mortality, stillbirth, ruptured ectopic pregnancies, and maternal depression. Based on this study, we observed increasing rates of cesarean delivery from mothers with SARS-CoV-2 infection. We also found that SARS-CoV-2 could be potentially transmitted vertically during the gestation period. However, more data are needed to further investigate and follow-up, especially with reports of newborns infected with SARS-CoV-2, in order to examine a possible long-term adverse effect.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1877
Number of pages20
Issue number9
Early online date20 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • COVID-19
  • pandemic
  • pregnancy
  • systematic review
  • vertical transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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