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COVID-19 Update:16 Pregnant Women Found With Injured Placenta; Can Virus Affect the Baby in the Womb?

Can the coronavirus affect the baby inside the mother’s womb? If you’re pregnant or know someone pregnant amid the pandemic, here’s a recently released study by the American Journal of Clinical Pathology. Experts studied 16 pregnant women that have been diagnosed with positive COVID-19.  Health experts were surprised to find out all of them were found with an injured placenta inside their bodies. So, does this mean that the virus capable of harming the unborn baby?   

On Friday, May 22, the American Journal of Clinical Pathology released a study about 16 pregnant women with positive Coronavirus disease. This was said to be the largest research that studies the placenta of pregnant women with the acquired virus.

Shockingly, all the pregnant women that were part of the study are also found with an injured placenta. The placenta is “an organ that develops in your uterus during pregnancy. This structure provides oxygen and nutrients to your growing baby and removes waste products from your baby’s blood,” according to Mayo Clinic. 

The type of injury that was found on each placenta of the tested subjects results in abnormal blood flow between the mother and the baby. This means that the system of delivering oxygen and removing wastes from the mother to the fetus may affect due to the unusual flow of blood. 

“Not to paint a scary picture, but these findings worry me,” said Northwestern Medicine obstetrician Dr. Emily Miller, coauthor of the study published Friday in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology, in a statement. 

Though the injured placenta is bothersome for most pregnant women, experts conclude that all the babies delivered by their test subjects seemed to be unaffected by the abnormal flow of blood. 

Despite this, they alarmed hospitals that pregnant women must also be highly-monitored amid pandemic. Since having an injured placenta is still an alarming diagnosis for laboring women. 

“Most of these babies were delivered full-term after otherwise normal pregnancies, so you wouldn’t expect to find anything wrong with the placentas, but this virus appears to be inducing some injury in the placenta,” said senior author Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein, assistant professor of pathology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine pathologist. “It doesn’t appear to be inducing negative outcomes in live-born infants, based on our limited data, but it does validate the idea that women with COVID should be monitored more closely.” 

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that mother-to-child transmission of COVID-19 is unlikely to happen, based on recent studies. 

What the agency believes is that pregnant women have the same risks of acquiring the virus, just like an adult. However, no studies are pointing out that the baby may die once the mother is infected with the COVID-19. 

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