Pregnant women who contract Covid-19 in their third trimester are unlikely to pass it on to their unborn babies, study finds
- Researchers studied and followed 64 pregnant women who had Covid
- None of their babies were infected with the coronavirus after birth
- There was also no coronavirus detected in the placenta of the baby
Pregnant women who catch the coronavirus do not pass it on to their unborn children, according to data from a new study.
US-based researchers followed 64 women who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, between April 2 and June 13.
None of the babies tested positive for Covid-19 after they were born, and no coronavirus was detected in the placenta.
While the Harvard academics warn the small sample size makes it impossible to rule out that some pregnant women could pass the virus to their children, it shows the natural defences of pregnancy fend off the virus, they say.
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US-based researchers followed 64 women who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, between April 2 and June 13. None of the babies tested positive for Covid-19 (stock)
The expecting mothers were all in their third trimester and had the virus in their lungs, nose, and throat, but not in their bloodstream or placenta.
Other data, which includes information on women who contracted the virus earlier in their pregnancy, is due to be published soon, the researchers say.
The latest research was carried out at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in Washington DC.
Children may be more at-risk of catching the new mutated coronavirus variant than any previous strains, Government advisers claimed yesterday.
Professor Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist of Imperial College London and member of No10’s advisory group NERVTAG, said there was a ‘hint’ children – who have barely been affected by the pandemic so far – were more susceptible to the mutation.
The academic, known as ‘Professor Lockdown’, was instrumental in the UK’s March restrictions but stepped down from his advisory position on SAGE after he flaunted the guidance he helped implement to visit his married lover.
He said it is possible the surge of the new variant, called B.1.1.7, during the November lockdown — which occurred in school term-time — could have happened because the variant is better at infecting children than past SARS-CoV-2 iterations.
Researchers believe the new virus strain, which Matt Hancock said is ‘out of control’, is between 50 and 70 per cent more infectious, but don’t believe it is more deadly or causes any more severe disease in either adults or children.
Dr Diana Bianchi, director of the NICHD, said: ‘This study provides some reassurance that SARS-CoV-2 infections during the third trimester are unlikely to pass through the placenta to the foetus, but more research needs to be done to confirm this finding.’
Among those who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the study, 23 were asymptomatic, 22 had mild disease, seven had moderate disease, ten had severe disease and three had critical disease.
As well as those who tested positive, a further 63 pregnant women who were COVID negative and 11 women who were not pregnant were included in the study for comparison.
The researchers found the risk of reduced blood flow in the placenta was higher for women who suffered the worst cases of the disease.
They also noticed lower-than-expected levels of protective antibodies in the umbilical cord blood, but much higher levels of influenza-specific antibodies.
This, they say, could be due to the flu jab and suggests COVID antibodies do not pass through the placenta as well as antibodies that target other viruses.
Results also showed that only a very low level of COVID antibodies made it to the unborn child, raising more questions about potential immunity.
The study’s author, Dr Andrea Edlow, from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said: ‘It will be important to determine why these maternal antibodies are less likely to cross the placenta and whether this reduced antibody transfer renders newborns more vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 infection, compared to other infections.
‘It will be important to determine how lower levels of maternal SARS-CoV-2 antibodies may affect health outcomes of preterm babies because COVID-19 may increase the risk of preterm labour.
The findings have been published in the journal JAMA Network Open.
Covid-19 can cause PARALYSIS in children in rare cases
Coronavirus infection can cause paralysis in children in very rare cases, a new study reveals.
Researchers at the University of Manchester looked at neurological symptoms in 38 unusual cases of Covid-19 in under-18s.
SARS-CoV-2 has previously been found to cause neurological issues in adult patients, with delirium and strokes among the reported problems.
But there has been very little scientific research into the neurological implications of Covid-19 in children.
A total of 38 children who tested positive for the infection were assessed in the specialist study who had been admitted to hospital across eight countries.
The cases were found after a global call for unusual Covid cases in children was put out by the American Society of Pediatric Neuroradiology.
Thirteen came from France, eight from the UK, five from the US, four from Brazil, four from Argentina, two from India, one from Peru and one from Saudi Arabia.
Eight of the children had no respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath or a cough, as is typically associated with Covid-19.
Four children in the study died after contracting another infection, such as TB and MRSA, after Covid-19 had made them more susceptible.
And two of the youngsters in the study were left paralysed after the virus reached their spinal cords and caused inflammation.
One of the children became quadriplegic and was reliant on a ventilator for breathing via a tracheostomy. The child is also being fed with a gastrostomy tube into their stomach.
The second child is also ventilator dependant with a tracheostomy as they are unable to breathe for themselves and had a tube into their stomach to feed them.
This child also has dysautonomia, a condition which has left them unable to regulate their heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, bladder function and temperature, for example.
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