Babies are at risk of suffering neurodevelopment problems when they become exposed to SARS-CoV-2 in the womb, according to a new study.

The European Psychiatric Association and the University of Barcelona reported in their study that babies exposed to COVID-19 during pregnancy may have brain development issues.

According to the study, infants born to moms infected with the novel coronavirus during pregnancy had “greater difficulty in controlling head and should movement.”

The authors suggested that COVID-19 may affect the motor functions of infants if their moms contracted the virus while carrying them in the womb.

“Not all babies born to mothers infected with COVID show neurodevelopmental differences, but our data shows that their risk is increased in comparison to those not exposed to COVID in the womb. We need a bigger study to confirm the exact extent of the difference,” project leader Dr. Rosa Ayesa Arriola was quoted as saying by WFLA.

Aside from motor function problems, the babies also had trouble “relaxing and adapting their bodies when they are being held.” On the contrary, babies born to moms not exposed to the virus did not experience the same issues.

Data used in the study came from the Spanish COGESTCOV project, which has been following and monitoring the effects of COVID-19 infection during pregnancy on baby development.

For the recently published study presented at the European Congress of Psychiatry this week, only 21 mothers and infant subjects were tested. The team is willing to move forward with a larger sample group for a follow-up study.

“We also need to be aware that this is a comparatively small sample, so we are repeating the work, and we will follow this up over a longer period. We need a bigger sample to determine the role of infection on offspring’s neurodevelopmental alterations and the contribution of other environmental factors,” said co-researcher Nerea San Martín González.

There is ongoing research on the changes to the development of babies in the womb when their mothers contract SARS-CoV-2. Scientists are also eager to evaluate the babies months after their birth.