Coronavirus Likely To Affect Fetus Even Without Placental Infection: Study

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Scientists have not yet found a cure for Covid-19 virus amid the rising cases induced by new variants though the immunity-enhancing vaccine has reduced the harm to human life to some extent. The virus is likely to endanger the future generations as well. In a new study conducted by researchers from the National Institutes of Health of the United States, it is found that SARS- CoV-2 infection during pregnancy may infect fetus even without infecting the placenta.

The researchers found that Covid-19 infection during pregnancy may cause inflammatory immune responses in the fetus even in the absence of placental infection. The researchers observed the changes in antibodies, immune cell types and inflammatory markers in maternal blood, umbilical cord blood and placental tissues. The study has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

The inflammatory immune response was found in the tissues of the mother, her baby and the umbilical cord, according to the study’s findings. It made no difference whether the mother experienced infection symptoms or not. Immune cells (also known as T cells) in pregnant women infected with Coronavirus exhibited a weaker antiviral response. Antibodies to the virus were also produced in infected mothers who did not show any signs of illness.

Antibodies to some of these proteins were also discovered in umbilical cord blood. It was also observed by the researchers that infected mothers had significant amounts of immunological active indicators (cytokines). Interleukin 8, interleukin 10, and interleukin 15 were found in the cytokines, according to the study.

Interleukin 8 levels were found to be high in babies born to infected mothers who had no symptoms. The proportion of immune cell types in infected moms changed despite the lack of the virus in the umbilical cord. The immunological activity of the umbilical cord and the blood in the umbilical cord of babies born to infected moms changed. Although the umbilical cord of infected women may not have been infected during pregnancy, the immune systems of the newborns have been damaged.

The study was conducted by Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to find out unique maternal, fetal and placental immune responses among Covid-19 positive pregnant women.

Researchers from the National Institute of Health examined 23 pregnant women. Twelve of the women tested positive for Covid-19 while the other eight were asymptomatic. Three of the women were in serious condition, while one had only minor symptoms. By comparing maternal blood and umbilical cord blood after birth, researchers were able to compare immunological responses between mother and child.

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