Asymptomatic Covid-19 can also cause pregnancy risks, study finds

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  • Research on pregnancy and Covid-19 has been focusing on the impact of severe Covid on pregnancy.
  • A study assessed the effect of mild and moderate Covid on pregnancy.
  • The study found that even mild Covid-19 triggers adverse effects in babies and can impact their long-term health.

Research has shown that pregnant women infected with severe Covid-19 are at high risk of adverse outcomes for themselves and their babies. Now, a new study has found that even asymptomatic Covid-19 infection during pregnancy could have long-term consequences for a developing baby.

A new study published in Cell Reports assessed how asymptomatic and mild Covid-19 can cause a significant response in pregnant women.

The researchers collected maternal membranes and blood at delivery from 991 mothers who experienced mild upper respiratory tract infection but did not require medical care during pregnancy. They had mild Covid-19 or tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 at the time of delivery but had no symptoms.

Pregnant mothers should get vaccinated 

The study found that Covid-19 infection in pregnant mothers who were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms triggered immune responses that caused inflammation in the placenta.

These immune responses in the placenta can be linked to negative pregnancy outcomes such as preterm labour and preeclampsia. These can be linked to complications due to reduced immune function, potentially causing long-term health complications for the baby.

“Prior to this study, this response was only thought to occur in severe Covid-19 cases. We now know that even a mild infection that doesn’t even register with a patient is still being registered by the maternal immune system. The placenta had very clear signs of having sensed that there was an infection,” said study author Dr Ilhem Messoudi in a press statement.

The study results add to the recommendation that pregnant mothers should get vaccinated.

“This tells us how capable the maternal immune system is while at the same time showing how detrimental Covid-19 can be even when the infection is not severe. These are all reasons why it’s so important that pregnant mothers get vaccinated,” Messoudi said.

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