Since the start of the pandemic, fears about the risk for pregnant women of developing severe forms of Covid-19 was regularly raising. Scientists are also wondering about the risk of mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy and the impact on fetal development.
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However, the limited data available makes their task more difficult. In fact, as during the SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV epidemics, only a small number of pregnant women infected with the virus have been documented in the scientific literature. There is no confirmation of the possibility of mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy (vertical transmission) about these two other coronaviruses.
The Covid-19 Risk
In the case of Covid-19, suspicions of vertical transmission during pregnancy have been reported quite early. Especially in China, where the case of an infant testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 around 36 hours after birth has. However, after childbirth, the virus’s transmission could not exclude following close contact between mother and child. As a study published in Lancet Infectious Diseases specifies, this transmission mode could not be confirmed in many other similar cases. Either, because no trace of the virus was found in the: placenta, the cord umbilical, amniotic fluid, or breast milk in women and infants tested.
A case study published in July in Nature Communications sheds further light on the subject. It was describing the first case of transmission of Covid-19 from a pregnant woman to her child via the placenta. The researchers looked at the clinical case of a 23-year-old mother with Covid-19, whose baby also showed signs of the disease from birth. They took blood samples and amniotic fluid from the umbilical cord. Blood samples and PCR tests on the infant to look for the virus’s presence. Therefore, this study provides new arguments on the possibility of transmission during pregnancy, which should validate on a larger sample of patients. Thus, the scientific community remains cautious, believing that while mother-to-child transmission is possible during pregnancy, it is infrequent.
Also, the documented cases of pregnant women infected with SARS-Cov-2 mainly concern patients in their third trimester of pregnancy. Therefore, it would be interesting to identify and study women infected earlier in pregnancy to assess the consequences for the mother and fetus’s health.
No More Complications during Pregnancy
Another concern: are pregnant women sick with Covid-19 at greater risk of complications?
Here again, the data are fragmentary. Studies carried out on a small sample of patients point to a higher risk of complications for the fetus. Particularly miscarriages, premature births, and intrauterine growth retardation. Symptoms reported in these women varied from one study to another. But some studies have reported acute respiratory syndromes, kidney problems, pneumonia, and sepsis occurring more frequently in this population.
Some researchers in pregnant women have also reported ventilation during the SARS-CoV epidemic.
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