Babies whose mothers became infected with the coronavirus during pregnancy may be at risk for brain developmental disorders such as autism and bipolar disorder, a new study suggests more than 7,500 births.
The report, published in the JAMA Network Open magazine on Thursday, adds to the need to control the spread of the coronavirus, although the new variants are less likely to cause severe cases of COVID-19.
Other viruses, such as the flu and measles, are thought to infect babies in the womb, making them more vulnerable to diseases such as autism, schizophrenia and depression. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School may be of the same opinion about COVID-19.
“There have been more than a decade of research showing that viral infections during pregnancy are associated with neuronal developmental disorders, so there was reason to be concerned about this virus as well,” the doctor said. Roy Perlis, director of the Digital Health Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and senior author of the study.
Researchers studied data from electronic birth records of births at eight medical centers in Massachusetts during the first months of the pandemic from March to September 2020. The records tracked the development of infants within a year of birth and looked for specific codes. Among other things, it indicates the diagnosis of a developmental disorder associated with movement, speech, or language.
Researchers found that 3 percent of the 7,550 babies whose mothers were uninfected during pregnancy had a brain development disorder before their first birth. 6.3 percent of 222 infants infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the womb were diagnosed at the age of 1 year.
After calculating other factors (such as premature birth, maternal age, and sex of the baby) that may affect a child’s neuronal risk, they estimated that SARS-CoV-2 may be 86 percent more likely to occur in infants with prenatal exposure. They are diagnosed in the first year compared to babies who are not exposed before birth.
Perlis stressed that the overall risk of developing these diseases remains low for all infants.
He added that a year is not enough to fully understand the effects of prenatal coronavirus on children. However, he said he was surprised to find some kind of link in the first place.
“Honestly, I would be very happy if we didn’t see anything,” he said.
In a comment accompanying the study, Dr. Torri Metz believes that the coronavirus may not directly address the developmental problems of infants.
Metz, an obstetrician at the University of Utah Health, said: “We wonder if the virus itself or the social changes and stresses of the pandemic are having a negative impact on the outcome of the child.
However, Dr. According to Christina Adams Waldorf, an obstetrician-gynecologist who studied infectious diseases during pregnancy at the Medical University of Washington, the results are similar to those of infections caused by other viruses.
“We know from research, including studies involving millions of pregnancies in Sweden, that exposure to various types of infections during pregnancy, such as the flu, can affect a child’s neural development,” said Adams Waldorf, who did not participate in the new study.
Further research is needed to determine whether the severity of maternal coronavirus infection is significant.
“Unfortunately, asymptomatic or mild infections can also be related to a child’s neural developmental disorders,” he said.
In any case, medical recommendations for pregnant women remain unchanged.
“It should be another bell for pregnant women to be vaccinated, strengthened, masked and taken as much precaution as possible,” Adams Waldorf said.
Sumet Culcarney, Los Angeles Times