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Injuries to placenta observed in pregnant COVID-19 patients

Date: 24 May 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The placentas of 16 pregnant women found to have COVID-19 during routine testing at a Chicago hospital all showed evidence of injury, indicating that women infected with coronavirus may need close monitoring during pregnancy.

 

Background

It is by now understood that a pregnant woman can possibly transmit the novel coronavirus to her baby or also deliver a healthy baby.

 

Details

  • The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology, found that 12 of the women, or 80%, had a type of injury that can impair blood flow from the mother to the fetus called vascular malperfusion.

  • Six of them, or 40%, had blood clots in the placenta. An historical comparison group showed vascular malperfusion in 55% of patients and placental blood clots in 9% of cases.

  • Women who had tested positive for Covid-19 while pregnant, tests conducted immediately after birth found their placentas had evidence of injury.

  • The type of injury showed abnormal blood flow between mothers and babies in utero. The researchers said the findings could help inform how pregnant women should be clinically monitored during the pandemic.

  • The placenta is the first organ to form in foetal development. It acts as the foetus’ lungs, gut, kidneys and liver, taking oxygen and nutrients from the mother’s blood stream and exchanging waste.

  • It was not clear where these could cause health issues among the babies, referring to long-term health effects in people born to women who had been infected during the Spanish flu pandemic a century ago.

  • The pregnant women among Covid-19 cases were identified through health records and traced through an app. The babies were born between March 18 and May 5. Fourteen of them were born after full-term pregnancies.

  • To monitor pregnant women, doctors suggest non-stress tests, which examine how well the placenta is delivering oxygen, or growth ultrasounds, which measure if the baby is growing at a healthy rate.