PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The CDC has new guidelines for newborns of mothers with or suspected of having coronavirus.

“The recommendation is the baby be tested sometime around 24 hours after birth. And if the test is negative, they’re recommending a second test at 48 hours,” says Dr. Paul Weinbaum, an obstetrician at the Allegheny Health Network.

And these babies must be kept apart.

“The baby should not only be separated from other babies but perhaps separated from the mother if that’s feasible,” he said.

In a busy delivery ward, this could pose some issues.

But if the mother wears a mask and washes her hands thoroughly and frequently, there can be allowances.

“There is leeway in the recommendations for keeping the baby in the same room, provided it’s a large enough room that you can put the 6-foot distance,” Dr. Weinbaum said.

Dr. Weinbaum says most of the transmission of coronavirus to babies happens after birth.

“After the babies are born, they may be exposed to respiratory droplets,” Dr. Weinbaum said.

Luckily, test results that used to take days now come back in less than 12 hours.

If the baby’s tests are negative, the separation is over.

But what happens if a baby tests positive?

“They don’t recommend keeping these babies in the hospital,” says Dr. Weinbaum.

Parents are told what to watch for.

“At the first sign of symptoms, perhaps respiratory or otherwise, they are to, of course, bring the children back to be evaluated,” says Dr. Weinbaum.

Premature babies are at the highest risk for severe illness, so even full-term babies who test positive are likely to do well.

Dr. Weinbaum says at the Allegheny Health Network, they are not screening all mothers, and he has not had any positive cases at the time of delivery.

The few cases he has seen were expectant mothers earlier in pregnancy, who tested negative by the time they delivered.

St. Clair Hospital released a statement, saying:

“St. Clair Hospital is testing newborns born to moms who are either COVID-19 positive or are suspected of being positive. St. Clair is following American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for the testing.”

UPMC released a statement, saying:

“UPMC Magee-Women’s Hospital follows the current CDC guidelines. NICU babies born to mothers with confirmed COVID-19 are tested for COVID-19.”

Dr. Maria Simbra