According to one study, if a pregnant woman contracts COVID-19, the infection, no matter how little, impacts the placenta’s immune response to future infections.
The findings were reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “This is the largest study of placentas from women who received COVID-19 during their pregnancies to date,” stated senior author Dr Kristina Adams Waldorf of the University of Washington School of Medicine. “We were startled to see that pregnant women who have COVID-19 had placentas with a reduced immune response to new infection.”
This discovery, according to Adams Waldorf, “was the tip of the iceberg” in terms of how COVID-19 can alter foetal or placental development.
Because there were so few kids born with COVID-19 infection early in the pandemic, many people believed that COVID-19 did not appear to harm the developing baby.
“But what we’re discovering today is that the placenta is sensitive to COVID-19, and infection alters the way the placenta operates, which is likely to impair foetal development,” Adams Waldorf said.
“Studies on how COVID-19 could effect foetal or child development have been quite restricted to far since the children are still very young,” said co-author Dr Helen Feltovich, professor and associate medical director for maternal-fetal medicine imaging at Intermountain Healthcare in Utah.
“Our findings imply that kids delivered to COVID-19-infected women at any time during their pregnancy should be closely observed as they grow,” she added.
Until delivery, the placenta supplies sustenance, oxygen, and immunological protection to the foetus. According to research done by Adams Waldorf, women who contract COVID-19 have a considerably greater death rate than women who do not get COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, several research have revealed that pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalised or have a premature delivery.
Adams Waldorf and Feltovich concur that it is unknown how various COVID-19 variations may influence the mother or foetus.
“”Studying each variety in real-time is quite difficult,” Adams Waldorf said, “because they just keep coming so rapidly that we can’t keep up.” We do know that the COVID-19 Delta variation was harmful to pregnant women since there was an increase in stillbirths, maternal deaths, and hospitalizations during that time period.”
Regardless of the variety, Adams Waldorf emphasised the importance of women not contracting COVID-19.
Women who are pregnant should first be vaccinated and boosted, and then continue to mask and stay inside a strict bubble of vaccinated and boosted persons. She recognises that this may imply isolation for the remainder of the pregnancy.
“The condition might be slight or severe, but we’re still detecting aberrant effects on the placenta,” she explained. “It appears that when a pregnant woman contracts COVID-19, the placenta is fatigued by the infection and cannot regain its immunological function.”
A total of 164 pregnant women were evaluated in this study, with 24 uninfected healthy patients serving as a control group and 140 women infected with COVID-19. Both groups gave birth at the same time, between 37 and 38 weeks. When patients with COVID-19 were compared to those without, preterm delivery occurred at nearly three times the rate. According to the research, over 75% of COVID-19 patients were either asymptomatic or had moderate symptoms.
Placental tissues were collected with patient consent from the Intermountain Healthcare Research Institutional Review Board in Salt Lake City, Utah, or the University of Washington Human Subjects Division in Seattle, Washington. Medical personnel gathered placental tissues at the time of birth.