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Covid causes fetal brain damage, says study

April 14, 2024
A health worker injects a man with a shot of the vaccine for COVID-19. — AFP/File
A health worker injects a man with a shot of the vaccine for COVID-19. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Researchers say they have discovered two rare cases in which the coronavirus breached a mother's placenta and caused brain damage in infants they were carrying.

The two babies were born in 2020 during the pandemic s Delta wave when Covid-19 vaccinations were not available to young mothers who tested positive for the virus during their second trimester according to the study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Both infants had seizures small head sizes and developmental delays according to a news release from the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami. One infant died at 13 months and the second child is in hospice care.

Evidence of Covid infection was found in both placentas and also in the brain of the infant who died the study said.

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Though both babies tested negative for Covid at birth higher antibody levels were found in their blood meaning that either antibodies crossed the placenta or passage of the virus occurred and the immune response was the baby s the release said. This is the first study to confirm cross placental SARS CoV 2 transmission leading to brain injury in the newborn, the release said.

The researchers said these are rare cases and they’d seen hundreds of women who tested positive for Covid deliver healthy babies.

We need to continue our research to figure out why these two babies experienced such devastating results said Merline Benny MD an assistant professor of pediatrics a neonatologist and first author on the paper. Once we fully understand the causes we can develop the most appropriate interventions.

Researchers recommend precautionary measures such as getting the Covid vaccine before and during pregnancy breastfeeding and masking if a mother is infected.