Study finds evidence coronavirus can spread across the placenta to the foetus

WION Web Team
New York, New York, United States of America Updated: Jul 10, 2020, 01:44 PM(IST)

Pregnant women with Covid are more likely to lose their fetuses and babies in the womb or shortly after birth (representative image). Photograph:( AFP )

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Researchers studied 31 women infected with coronavirus who were in late pregnancy during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy. They thoroughly tested the women, their babies once they were born, the placenta, the umbilical cord, the mother’s vaginal fluids and breast milk. 

A new study from Italy suggests that coronavirus can cross the placenta from a pregnant woman to her foetus. Two babies born to women infected with COVID-19 were born infected.

Researchers studied 31 women infected with coronavirus who were in late pregnancy during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy. They thoroughly tested the women, their babies once they were born, the placenta, the umbilical cord, the mother’s vaginal fluids and breast milk. 

Two of the newborns had positive tests at birth, they reported.

“The virus was found in an at-term placenta and in the umbilical cord blood, in the vagina of a pregnant woman and in milk,” the researchers wrote in a summary of their work.

The placentas were inflamed, as well -- a sign of infection. The umbilical cord blood of one of the newborns had antibodies indicating a recent infection. 

These antibody types are not usually transmitted from mother to baby, so they indicate the foetus was directly infected.

Luckily, the women were infected late in pregnancy so it is unlikely the virus would have affected the babies’ development. 

Among the other viruses, the Zika virus can pass from a pregnant woman to her unborn child. HIV — the virus that causes AIDS — can also be transmitted at birth.
 

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