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OBJECTIVE: Neonatal infection with wildtype SARS-CoV-2 is rare and good outcomes predominate. We investigated neonatal outcomes using national population-level data to describe the impact of different SARS-CoV-2 variants. DESIGN: Prospective population-based cohort study. SETTING: Neonatal, paediatric and paediatric intensive care inpatient care settings in the UK. PATIENTS: Neonates (first 28 days after birth) with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection who received inpatient care, March 2020 to April 2022. Neonates were identified through active national surveillance with linkage to national SARS-CoV-2 testing data, routinely recorded neonatal data, paediatric intensive care data and obstetric and perinatal mortality surveillance data. OUTCOMES: Presenting signs, clinical course, severe disease requiring respiratory support are presented by the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant in circulation at the time. RESULTS: 344 neonates with SARS-CoV-2 infection received inpatient care; breakdown by dominant variant: 146 wildtype, 123 alpha, 57 delta and 18 omicron. Overall, 44.7% (153/342) neonates required respiratory support; short-term outcomes were good with 93.6% (322/344) of neonates discharged home. Eleven neonates died: seven unrelated to SARS-CoV-2 infection, four were attributed to neonatal SARS-CoV-2 infection (case fatality 4/344, 1.2% 95% CI 0.3% to 3.0%) of which three were born preterm due to maternal COVID-19. More neonates were born very preterm (23/54) and required invasive ventilation (27/57) when delta variant was predominant, and all four SARS-CoV-2-related deaths occurred in this period. CONCLUSIONS: Inpatient care for neonates with SARS-CoV-2 was uncommon. Although rare, severe neonatal illness was more common during the delta variant period, potentially reflecting more severe maternal disease and associated preterm birth. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ISRCTN60033461.

Original publication




Journal article


Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed

Publication Date



COVID-19, epidemiology, neonatology