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Vertical Transmission of Dengue Virus in the Peripartum Period and Viral Kinetics in Newborns and Breast Milk: New Data.

SUMMARY: We investigated 10 mother-newborn pairs and found a 90% rate of dengue virus (DENV) transmission during the perinatal period. Here, we describe DENV kinetics in the sera of newborns before the onset of disease. Of the breast-milk samples analyzed, 75% tested positive for DENV.

BACKGROUND: Dengue is the most common mosquito-borne viral disease in humans. With this study, we aimed to investigate the risk of vertical (DENV) transmission during the peripartum period and to describe its viral kinetics in serum and breast milk.

METHODS: We carried out a prospective study during the 2012-2013 dengue epidemic in New Caledonia, its most severe on record. All mothers hospitalized at the Centre Hospitalier Territorial in Nouméa, New Caledonia, with symptoms of dengue infection between 7 days before and 2 days after delivery and/or whose infant was infected during breastfeeding were investigated. DENV was detected and quantified by quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) in sera and breast milk (mothers), sera and gastric fluid (newborns), cord blood, and placentas. DENV kinetics and sequences in sera and breast milk were studied. Clinical presentation and biological evolution in mother-newborn pairs were analyzed.

RESULTS: Ten mother-newborn pairs were investigated over an 11-month period. One premature birth, 3 hemorrhagic complications, and 1 maternal death occurred. Nine newborns were infected and symptomatic. One case of deep thrombocytopenia and 1 case of anoxic encephalopathy occurred. DENV was detected in breast milk samples from 9 (75%) of 12 infected breastfeeding mothers. Original DENV kinetics in sera and breast milk were described.

CONCLUSIONS: The occurrence of vertical DENV transmission was high (90%) in viremic mothers at delivery, and these mothers and their infants were at major risk for obstetric and neonatal complications. The modes of viral transmission are difficult to clarify. The risk of DENV transmission through breast milk seems plausible. Close follow-up of mothers and prolonged surveillance of their newborns are required for minimizing complications. Complementary studies are needed to elaborate preventive recommendations.

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