Researchers from the University of Miami Health System and Miller School of Medicine have published a study showing that in two cases, COVID-19 was transmitted from mothers to newborns through the placenta, causing lesions cerebral.
The study titled “Maternal SARS-CoV-2, Placental Changes and Brain Injury in Two Neonates” which was published in the journal Pediatrics analyzes two babies who were admitted to the NICU special unit (for preterm babies, very premature or with medical conditions) at Holtz Children’s Hospital.
Although the results came back negative for the virus at birth, significantly elevated levels of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were detected in the bloodstream, indicating that “antibodies crossed the placenta or passage of the virus occurred and the immune response was that of the baby,” according to the report.
Both babies experienced seizures, small head size and developmental delays, and one baby died aged 13 months.
“Many women are affected by COVID-19 during pregnancy, but seeing these types of problems in their babies at birth was clearly unusual,” said Dr Shahnaz Duara, NICU medical director at the hospital for Holtz children and lead author of the study. “We are trying to understand what made these two pregnancies different so that we can direct research towards protecting vulnerable babies.”
At the start of the pandemic, a group of neonatologists observed transient lung disease and sometimes blood pressure problems in newborns who also tested negative at birth but were born to mothers who tested positive.
“If we saw a baby presenting in this way, we would call it hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (brain damage caused by decreased blood flow),” said Dr. Michael Paidas, professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences. from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
“But it wasn’t the lack of blood flow to the placenta that caused this. The best we can say is viral infection,” said Dr. Michael Paidas, chair of the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. .
The authors point out that these were rare cases because doctors at the University of Miami saw hundreds of pregnant women and delivered to COVID-19 positive mothers. In both cases, the mothers acquired the infection in the second trimester and then cleared it, but one had repeated infection in the third trimester.
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