Italian Researchers Investigating if Pregnant Women Can Pass COVID-19 to Unborn Children

Pregnant women often worry about their unborn child's health, particularly when there is a chance that they may become ill and pass something on to their unborn child. During the COVID-19 pandemic, most pregnant women are taking extra precautions to avoid becoming infected. Now, a small study suggests that pregnant women may pass on the virus to their unborn child if they are infected themselves.

According an article published by Associated Press, researchers studied 31 women from three hospitals in northern Italy who had COVID-19 in March and April 2020. The researchers found evidence of the virus in some samples of umbilical cords, blood, placentas and, in one case, breast milk.

Claudio Fenizia, PhD, the lead author and an immunology specialist at the University of Milan, in Italy, said that women should not panic over these findings, however. They do not necessarily show that the virus itself in the samples and that it is still too early to make guidelines. More studies to support this discovery are needed, particularly on women who were infected in the early part of their pregnancies. Fenizia discussed these results in a medical conference that was held online.

Experts want to learn more about potential effects of the COVID-19 strain on pregnant women. Other known diseases like HIV and Zika can infect the fetus. Experts in China released reports earlier this year that suggest the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could also be spread to babies, but the physicians are not sure if the mothers may have spread the virus to their babies during or after the birth.

More studies need to be done to gain a better understanding of whether the coronavirus can be passed on to the fetus. For now, that possibility is deemed rare. So far, there were only two newborns who tested positive for the strain at birth. Neither of them became ill.

Pregnant In COVID-19 Pandemic Researchers said that there is no evidence that the novel coronavirus could cause serious complications in both the mother and baby during pregnancy. Pixabay

Ashley Roman, MD, an obstetrician at NYU Langone Health, believes that women should continue to be cautious and take health protocols seriously, including strict distancing, wearing a face mask and washing hands frequently. "Women don’t need to be cut off from society entirely, but they should be concerned about the impact of getting COVID on their own health during pregnancy," she said.

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