(CTN News) _ The placenta’s immune response to further infections is damaged if a woman contracts COVID-19 during pregnancy, even if the infection is mild.
“This is the largest study of placentas from women with during pregnancy to date,” said Dr. Kristina Adams Waldorf, senior author.
Women who had COVID-19 during pregnancy had placentas with impaired immune responses to new infections.”
Adams Waldorf said this was “the tip of the iceberg” in terms of COVID-19’s effects on fetal and placental development.
Because there were so few babies born with infection early in the pandemic, many thought it didn’t harm developing fetuses.
Adams Waldorf says the placenta is vulnerable to COVID-19, and the infection changes the way it works and impacts the fetus’ development.
Since children are still very young, there are only a few studies about how COVID-19 might affect their development, noted co-author Dr. Helen Feltovich.
Children born to mothers with any point during pregnancy should be monitored as they grow up, she said.
Adams Waldorf said studying variants in real time is challenging because they come so fast.
At that time, there was a spike in stillbirths, maternal deaths, and hospitalizations associated with the Delta variant.”
Regardless of the variant, Adams Waldorf stressed it’s important that women not catch COVID-19.
Vaccinate and boost pregnant women, and remain within a strict bubble of other vaccinated and boosted individuals. During pregnancy, that may mean isolating.
No matter how severe the disease is, we’re still seeing these abnormal effects on the placenta. In pregnancy, exhausts the placenta and prevents it from recovering its immune function.”
The study included 164 pregnant women, 24 uninfected healthy individuals and 140 COVID-19-infected individuals.
About the same time, both groups delivered. The patients had almost 3 times as many preterm births as those without.
According to the study, 75% of COVID-19 patients were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms.
Medical providers collected placental tissues at delivery with the approval of the Intermountain Healthcare Research Institutional Review Board in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the University of Washington Human Subjects Division.