The study says the infection can cause brain and organ damage in newborns

Using prenatal MRI, a team from the Medical University of Vienna in Austria examined the placentas and fetuses of women who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 during pregnancy, the study says.
Using prenatal MRI, a team from the Medical University of Vienna in Austria examined the placentas and fetuses of women who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 during pregnancy, the study says.

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London: The fetuses and placentas of pregnant women, especially those infected with COVID-19 in the early stages of the pandemic, are at a higher risk of experiencing growth disturbances or vascular lesions in organs and the brain, according to new research.

According to the research, the findings demonstrate that the different strains of the virus that emerged during the pandemic led to varying degrees of damage, particularly higher than those involving pre-Omicron variants. The placental lesions found could potentially harm both development and health in some of the affected unborn babies, the study says.

Using prenatal MRI, a team from the Medical University of Vienna in Austria examined the placentas and fetuses of women who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 during pregnancy, the study says.

The research was published in The Lancet Regional Health – Europe journal. While such damage occurs more rarely and is less severe with Omicron subtypes currently in circulation, the study authors still advocate early detection measures for pregnant women who test positive for the coronavirus.

In contrast to previous studies, in which SARS-CoV-2-related abnormalities were identified only after birth and/or through histopathological procedures, the research team focused on prenatal imaging findings, the study says.

Using prenatal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), 76 scans of placentas and fetuses from pregnant women were performed in the study: 38 following a confirmed infection with SARS-CoV-2 (pre-Omicron or Omicron variants) and 38 in healthy control cases, the study said.

The study found that the placentas in both the pre-Omicron and Omicron groups revealed abnormalities.

“Infections with pre-Omicron variants, such as Delta, have led to significantly more damage in the form of vascular events such as blood clots or bleeding than Omicron subvariants currently circulating in the population,” noted lead author Patric Kienast, outlining a key finding of the study.

The researchers attribute the varying extent of placental damage caused by different virus strains to Omicron subtypes being less likely than their predecessors to result in severe cases and higher vaccination rates as the pandemic progresses, the study said. .

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

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 as few as 3 percent or fewer of fetuses whose mothers test positive for SARS-CoV-2 are also infected, the study says.

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

“This is why the placentas of pregnant women who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 should be examined as soon as possible after testing positive using prenatal imaging techniques,” advised Daniela Prayer of the Medical University of Vienna , citing the importance of scanning, particularly in the case of possible future variants of the coronavirus with Delta-like mechanisms, for example.

That way, there’s a chance to take steps to safeguard the health of the fetus in the worst case, says the study.

The study says the infection can cause brain and organ damage in newborns

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