Risk to pregnant women with COVID-19

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DETROIT, Mich. (StudyFinds.org) – Pregnant women are at higher risk for COVID-19 complications, and a new study shows that it can also harm their unborn baby. A team from Wayne State University has found evidence that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID, can cause fetal inflammation even when there is no placental infection.

COVID-19 infection during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth, stillbirth and preeclampsia – or high blood pressure, which damages the organs.

“Most pregnant women with SARS-CoV-2 infection are asymptomatic or experience only mild symptoms. However, in the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was documented that infected pregnant women have an increased risk of hospitalization. mechanical ventilation, intensive care unit delivery, and preterm birth, but maternal mortality was reported to be similar between pregnant and non-pregnant women, ”said Dr. Roberto Romero, head of NIH’s Perinatology Research Branch and professor of Molecular Obstetrics and Genetics at Wayne State’s School of Medicine, in a university announcement.

“In recent times, it has been clearly shown that pregnant women have a high risk of serious illness and death as well as premature birth. Investigating host immune responses in pregnant women who are infected, even if they are asymptomatic, is timely. “

COVID cuts down on virus-fighting immune cells in pregnant women

The research team tracked the health of 23 pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the 23, 12 tested positive for COVID.

Eight of the 12 women had no symptoms, one had mild symptoms, and three had severe symptoms. After birth, the researchers analyzed the mother’s blood and umbilical cord blood to look for any changes in immune responses.

Their observations showed that SARS-CoV-2 reduced T cells, which help protect against viruses. Viral infection also induced an inflammatory immune response, as seen in the increase of inflammatory markers such as interleukin-8, interleukin-15 and interleukin-10. Newborns showed higher levels of the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-8, although they did not have a direct infection while in the womb (shown through the lack of evidence indicating a placental COVID-19 infection).

Researchers say their results show that fetuses are vulnerable to maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, the long-term consequences of high inflammation in newborns are still unknown and require further investigation.

The study is published in the journal Nature communication.

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