Research Suggests That Covid in Pregnancy Can Cause Health Issues in Infants

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A study based out of Los Angeles has found that infants born to mothers infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy present with disproportionately high rates of respiratory distress at or directly after birth. While none of the 200 infants in the study tested positive for COVID-19 upon birth, 17% of the newborns showed definitive signs of respiratory distress. A leading theory for these results are that inflammatory proteins called cytokines cross the placenta, leading to inflammatory activation in the fetus. This is supported by the finding that newborns in the study presented with unusually high levels of these inflammatory cytokines in their blood. 

In addition to causing respiratory distress, COVID-19 in pregnancy is also found to cause preterm birth, stillbirth, and developmental delays in early life, although there is not enough research yet to confirm whether these delays will remain present as the child grows. The most significant way to prevent these complications is to ensure that pregnant women are vaccinated against COVID-19. If they haven’t yet received the vaccine prior to pregnancy, the CDC guidelines make it clear that the vaccine is both safe to get and recommended at any point in the pregnancy. 

It is important to note that while COVID-19 has taken the forefront of this research, it is not the only infection that can cause these effects. Infection with other bacterial and viral agents during pregnancy, including the influenza (flu) viruses, can similarly impact infants, so it is important for pregnant women to take appropriate precautions. 

To read the full article by Aria Bendix of NBC News, click here

For more on COVID-19, click here. 

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