Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options Skip directly to A-Z link Skip directly to A-Z link Skip directly to A-Z link
Volume 10, Number 9—September 2004

SARS during Pregnancy, United States

On This Page
Article Metrics
citations of this article
EID Journal Metrics on Scopus

Cite This Article

To the Editor: Two of eight persons with laboratory-confirmed severe acute respiratory syndrome–associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) infection in the United States during 2003 were pregnant women. Robertson et al. (1) reported data describing one pregnant patient who recovered and delivered a healthy infant. We report data concerning the second patient, with follow-up 1 month after the child’s birth.

The patient, a healthy, 38-year-old woman in the 7th week of pregnancy, traveled with her husband to Hong Kong. From March 1 to March 6, 2003, they stayed at the Hong Kong hotel where it is believed a physician from China spread SARS-CoV to several guests. These guests were the index case-patients for subsequent outbreaks in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, and Toronto, Canada (2). The woman and her husband returned to the United States on March 6; the husband had onset of SARS illness on March 13. On March 18, the patient had onset of an illness with fever (<40°C), muscle aches, chills, headache, runny nose, productive cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath. A chest radiograph showed a diffuse infiltrate in the left lung. The patient was hospitalized for 9 days and given broad-spectrum antimicrobial drugs. She recovered from her illness, and enzyme immunoassay and immunofluorescent assays conducted on serum samples on days 28 and 64 after illness onset were positive for antibodies to SARS-CoV.

The patient had an uneventful pregnancy until the last trimester, when her blood glucose levels were elevated. Early spontaneous rupture of membranes initiated preterm labor, and a cesarean section was performed at 36 weeks’ gestation because of fetal distress. A 5-pound, 7-ounce, healthy boy was delivered without complications. Apgar scores were 7 at 1 minute and 8 at 5 minutes. The newborn had no illness, abnormalities, or congenital malformations. Serum samples from the patient at delivery were positive for antibodies to SARS-CoV, but cord blood and placenta samples were negative. Breast milk samples on postpartum days 12 and 30 were also negative for SARS-CoV antibodies. Blood, stool, and nasopharyngeal swab samples from the patient and cord-blood samples showed no viral RNA by reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction. Stool samples from the newborn, collected on days 12 and 30 after delivery, were also negative for viral RNA.

Although other countries have reported cases of severe illness and poor outcome associated with SARS-CoV infection during pregnancy (35), neither of the two pregnant SARS case-patients in the United States had serious adverse outcomes. The presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV in breast milk might be influenced by the time of infection in relation to gestation. Robertson et al. (1) reported that antibodies to SARS-CoV were detected in the breast milk of a patient who was infected at 19 weeks’ gestation; however, the patient in this case was infected at 7 weeks’ gestation, and antibodies to the virus were not detected in her breast milk. No reports have indicated vertical transmission of SARS-CoV, a finding that is supported by our data. However, too few cases have been studied to clearly define the risks and provide guidance for treating pregnant women infected with SARS CoV.


Lauren A. Stockman*Comments to Author , Sara A. Lowther*, Karen Coy†, Jenny Saw‡, and Umesh D. Parashar*
Author affiliations: *Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA; †Santa Clara County Department of Public Health, San Jose, California, USA; ‡Private pediatric practice, San Jose, California, USA



  1. Robertson  CA, Lowther  SA, Birch  T, Tan  C, Sorhage  F, Stockman  L, SARS and pregnancy: a case report. Emerg Infect Dis. 2004;10:3458.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Update: outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome—worldwide, 2003. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2003;52:2418.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Shek  CC, Ng  PC, Fung  GP, Cheng  FW, Chan  PK, Peiris  MJ, Infants born to mothers with severe acute respiratory syndrome. Pediatrics. 2003;112:2546. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Zhang  JP, Wang  YH, Chen  LN, Zhang  R, Xie  YF. Clinical analysis of pregnancy in second and third trimesters complicated severe acute respiratory syndrome. Zhonghua Fu Chan Ke Za Zhi. 2003;38:51620.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Wong  SF, Chow  KM, deSwiet  M. Severe acute respiratory syndrome and pregnancy. BJOG. 2003;110:6412. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar


Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid1009.040244

Related Links


Table of Contents – Volume 10, Number 9—September 2004

EID Search Options
presentation_01 Advanced Article Search – Search articles by author and/or keyword.
presentation_01 Articles by Country Search – Search articles by the topic country.
presentation_01 Article Type Search – Search articles by article type and issue.



Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:

Lauren Stockman, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, MS E78, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA; fax: 404-498-2720

Send To

10000 character(s) remaining.


Page created: March 29, 2011
Page updated: March 29, 2011
Page reviewed: March 29, 2011
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.