‘Bleeding in the brain’, ‘stunned growth’: COVID can dangerously harm foetus. Detail here

Getting COVID during pregnancy can turn out to be dangerous for the fetuses and placentas, a new study showed adding that there is ‘greater risk of experiencing growth impairment or vascular lesions in organs and brain’. The researchers, however, pointed out that different strains of the virus that emerged during the pandemic led to varying degrees of damage and the harmful effects were higher for the early strains

The study was conducted by a group of researchers at Medical University of Vienna, Austria and it was recently published in the journal The Lancet Regional Health – Europe. 

The authors noted that abnormalities were seen in placentas in both the pre-Omicron and the Omicron groups but lead author Patric Kienast, outlining a key finding of the study, cited, “Infections with pre-Omicron variants, such as Delta, led to significantly greater damage in the form of vascular events such as blood clots or bleeding than with the Omicron subvariants currently circulating through the population.”

The researchers attribute the varying extent of damage to the placenta caused by different virus strains to the fact that Omicron sub-lineages are less likely than their predecessors to result in severe cases, and to higher vaccination rates as the pandemic has progressed, the study said.

“In any case, our results showed that the two non-vaccinated study participants developed placental abnormalities following infection with SARS-CoV-2 Omicron, compared with just one out of six of the women who had received three doses of the vaccine,” confirmed senior author Gregor Kasprian.

In the course of the study, the team studied a total of 76 scans of placentas and foetuses, of these, 38 were found to be infected with COVID and 38 in healthy control cases

Oxygen, nutrients and metabolic products are exchanged between mother and child in the placenta. Attached to the uterine wall, this organ forms such a strong barrier against the coronavirus that only 3 per cent or fewer of foetuses whose mothers test positive for SARS-CoV-2 are also infected, the study said.

But as the study shows, the placenta itself is not spared from complications caused by Covid-19. Subsequently, some unborn babies experience stunted growth or bleeding in the brain, the study said.


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