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Placenta may shield fetus from catching COVID-19 from mum

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While pregnant women are at a high risk of developing severe or critical COVID-19, international research indicates that the placenta may serve as a shield, lowering the danger of the virus spreading to the fetus.

According to a study published in Nature Communications involving 12 women who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 while pregnant, the virus causes a placental inflammatory response involving both maternal and foetal cells but does not infect placental tissue.

While the majority of pregnant women infected with SARS-CoV-2 are asymptomatic or have moderate symptoms, some evidence suggests that they are at a higher risk of developing severe disease.

Little is known, however, regarding how asymptomatic or mild sickness affects the foetal-maternal interface and the infant’s health.

Nardhy Gomez-Lopez and colleagues selected 12 pregnant women who had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and 11 healthy controls to learn more about the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy.

Eight of the women who tested positive had asymptomatic infections, one had mild symptoms, and three had severe COVID-19 that needed respiratory support.

The authors discovered a typical pro-inflammatory immune response in the placenta and blood of both mothers and newborns after maternal viral exposure.

Although maternal antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 traveled via the placenta to the newborn, no foetal antibodies or SARS-CoV-2 were found in the placenta, according to the researchers.

They believe this means the placenta protects the foetus from infection.

The findings, according to the authors, shed light on the maternal-foetal immune responses in SARS-CoV-2 infection and show that vertical transfer from mother to foetus is an uncommon occurrence.

They emphasize that their findings should be interpreted with caution due to the small number of severe COVID-19 cases in pregnancy.

Source: 10.1038/s41467-021-27745-z

Image Credit: Getty

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