Nearly all pregnant women in study who had coronavirus were asymptomatic

Study tests 200 pregnant women for COVID-19
Study tests 200 pregnant women for COVID-19 03:19

Yanira Soriano met her newborn son for the first time Wednesday after spending nearly two weeks in a medically induced coma. She was eight months pregnant when she showed coronavirus symptoms, tested positive and was quickly intubated, her husband, Walter Sanchez, told CBS News.

At that point, Walter said, the doctors conducted an emergency cesarean section while Yanira was on the ventilator. 

Hospitals across New York are preparing for similar situations.

"We really advocate for assessment on a case-by-case basis," said Dr. Dena Goffman, with the Columbia University Irving Medical Center. 

Goffman co-authored a new study that tested more than 200 pregnant women admitted for delivery in two New York City hospitals for coronavirus whether they showed symptoms or not. Thirty-three women tested positive, but 29 of them showed no symptoms, according to the results published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"If we're not checking, we really do risk missing people who are carrying the virus," Goffman said.

CBS News correspondent Nikki Battiste, who is 37 weeks pregnant, said she was told she'll have to wear a mask when she goes in to deliver, and she'll be tested as soon as she arrives at the hospital. If she tests positive, she'll be isolated as staff take special precautions.

Battiste asked Goffman if she would recommend separating her newborn from her if she tests positive for the virus.

"For a mom who's asymptomatic and feeling well, we think there are ways to ... potentially keep them together to allow for some of the bonding," Goffman said.

So far, studies have not shown coronavirus passes through breastmilk, but Goffman said asymptomatic mothers should wear masks while around their newborns.

Partners and spouses at the New York hospitals that are testing pregnant women for coronavirus will have their temperatures taken upon arrival as well. If they have a fever, they're not allowed inside.