Pathological tests completed directly following birth have found evidence of insufficient blood flow from the mother to the fetus and blood clots to the placenta.
That can interfere with the role of the placenta in delivering oxygen and nutrients from the mother’s bloodstream to the growing baby and removing waste products from the baby’s blood.
Despite following only 16 women, the authors say the study is the largest health evaluation of placentas among women who tested positive for Covid-19 made to date.
“I do not want to draw conclusive conclusions from a small study, but this initial glance at how Covid-19 can cause changes in the placenta carries some significant implications for health of a pregnancy, “said Miller, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
“We have to discuss whether we should change how we monitor pregnant women today,” said Miller, who she said could be done by testing delivery of oxygen to the placenta during pregnancy and following the growth of those baby by ultrasounds.
“There are all kinds of risks in doing additional screening and testing, which can result in unexpected outcomes,” said Jamieson, who heads the department of gynecology and obstetrics at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.
“I don’t think the gun should jump,” Jamieson added. “This study raises more questions than it answers. Looking at the placenta will help us understand what’s going on in pregnancy, but I think we need to be careful about jumping into what is clinical significance in terms of the care of pregnant women with Covid-19. “
No harm to babies
While research on infants born to mothers infected with Covid-19 is just beginning, to date the virus does not appear to be creating any “appalling consequences of pregnancy in the way we have seen in some others.” more viral infections, ”Jamieson said.
The same is true in this new study, where newborns are “healthy, whole, beautiful normal babies,” Miller said, although blood flow is blocked and “many of the placentas are smaller than they should be. “
However, the placentas were built with a “tremendous amount of redundancy,” Miller said. “Although only half of it is working, babies are often perfectly well.”
The ancient author Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein, an assistant professor of pathology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, agrees.
“It does not appear to be encouraging negative outcomes in live-born infants, based on our limited data,” Goldstein said.
Fourteen of the live-born infants in the study were born full term and had normal Apgar weights and scores. A live born baby is premature.
One patient suffered a miscarriage in the second trimester, but she was “asymptomatic, so we don’t know if the virus was caused by the miscarriage or not,” Goldstein said.
What should a mother do?
Discuss any concerns with your personal obstetrician-gynecologist, experts said. Take the same precautions recommended for everyone: Wash your hands, do not touch your face, wear a mask when you go out.
“And I think it’s a good time for pregnant women to ask family members to run errands, fill up their gas, get groceries for them,” Jamieson said. “I think there are a lot of good reasons to release pregnant women – and I think now is a better time than ever for pregnant women to ask for and receive help.”
And don’t worry unnecessarily.
“There is increasing evidence that pregnant women may not be more severely affected by Covid-19 than the rest of us, which we are concerned about at the beginning of the pandemic,” Jamieson said.
“But Covid-19 is still a serious pregnancy disease that needs to be carefully studied and studied.”