Infants with COVID in the course show neural changes

Summary: Babies whose mothers were infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy had more difficulty resting and adjusting to the body while holding their mothers than those whose mothers were not infected with COVID-19. In addition, babies born to sick mothers have difficulty controlling their head and shoulder movements. The results show that prenatal COVID-19 infection may affect the development of motor function in infants.

A source: European Psychiatric Association

Babies born to mothers infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy show differences in neuronal development at 6 weeks, according to a 30-year preliminary European Congress of Psychiatry.

Dr. Rosa Ayesa Arriola, project manager, said: “Not all babies born to mothers infected with COVID have neuronal developmental differences, but our data suggest that their risk is higher than that of those who do not have COVID in the womb.”

Researchers have found that infants born to infected mothers, especially those infected at the end of pregnancy, have more difficulty resting and adapting to the hand than babies born to non-infected mothers.

In addition, babies born to infected mothers have greater difficulty controlling head and shoulder movements. These changes indicate the possible effects of COVID-19 on motor function (movement control).

The results are from an initial assessment of the Spanish project COGESTCOV-19, which follows the course of pregnancy and child development of mothers infected with COVID-19.

Researchers are providing data on pregnancy and postpartum assessment at 6 weeks postpartum, but the project will continue to look for long-term effects. The group monitors the language and motor skills of infants aged 18 months to 42 months.

In an initial assessment, infants born to 21 women with COVID-positive pregnancies and their infants were compared with 21 healthy caregivers at the University Hospital of Marquez de Valdecilla in Santander, Spain.

Mothers with a series of tests during and after pregnancy. These include hormonal and other biochemical tests (cortisol measurements, immunological responses, etc.), salivation tests, motor responses, and psychological questionnaires.

All tests were tailored to the child’s age, sex, and other factors.

Postpartum tests include the Neonatal Behavior Assessment Scale (NBAS), which measures a baby’s movement and behavior.

Researcher. Águeda Castro Quintas (University of Barcelona, ​​Center for Biomedical Research in Mental Health), said:

“We found that in 6-week-old infants exposed to the SARS-COV-2 virus, some of the NBAS measurement elements were modified. As a result, they respond slightly differently to being held or hugged.”

“We were especially sensitive to how we conducted these tests. Each mother and infant were thoroughly examined in the field and tested by clinicians who were expertly trained.

“It should be noted that these are preliminary results, but this is part of a project after a large sample of 100 mothers and their babies. They were monitored during pregnancy and after birth.

“We also plan to compare these mothers and infants with data from another similar project (epi-project) that looks at the effects of stress and genetics on a child’s neural development.”

Agueda Castro Quintas continued:

“This is an ongoing project and we are at the initial stage. We found that infants whose mothers had COVID showed neurological effects at 6 weeks, but we do not know whether these effects lead to long-term problems, and long-term observation can help to understand this.

Additional researcher Nerea San Martin Gonzalez added:

“Of course, young babies have a number of things that we cannot measure, such as language skills or cognition. We also need to know that this is a relatively small sample, so we are repeating the work and we will continue to do so for a long time. We need more models to determine the role of infection and other environmental factors in the neural development of offspring.

“At the same time, we need to emphasize the importance of medical monitoring for a healthy pregnancy and discuss all issues with your doctor if necessary.”

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Dr. Rosa Ayesa Arriola, Project Manager, commented:

“This is the right time to establish international cooperation, which will allow us to assess the long-term neural development of children born during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research in this area is crucial to understanding and preventing these children’s potential neurological problems and mental health problems in the coming years. ”

This shows the abdomen of a pregnant woman
Researchers have found that infants born to infected mothers, especially those infected at the end of pregnancy, have more difficulty resting and adapting to the hand than babies born to non-infected mothers. Image in public domain

In an independent comment, Dr. Livio Provenzi (University of Pavia, Italy) said:

“There is a great need to study the direct and indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and well-being of parents and infants. Pregnancy is a period of life that makes up much of our subsequent development, and the difficulties of pregnancy can leave long-lasting biological traces.

“These findings from Dr. Rosa Ayesa Arriola’s team support the evidence of epigenetic changes in newborns who have been exposed to pandemic stress during pregnancy. Studies show that.

Dr. Provenzi was not involved in this.

To warn: The epic project is a multi-centered project that includes a hospital clinic in Barcelona and a hospital at the University of Central de Asturias. It looks at the effects of genetics and stress on a child’s outcome. It was headed by Prof. Dr. Lourdes Fananas.

Funding: This study was funded by the Salud Carlos III Institute of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness of Spain, a multi-centered project of the University of Barcelona – Intramural Grants (SAM15-20PI12 & SAM18PI01) -PI L. Fañanas and the Government of Cantabria (INNVAL20 / 02). ) -PI R. Ayesa. The authors have no interest in developing this study and publishing its results.

About this COVID-19 and neuronal research news

Author: Tom Parhill
A source: European Psychiatric Association
The connection: Tom Parhill – European Psychiatric Association
Photo: Image in public domain

Original study: Results will be given at 30 European Congress of Psychiatry.

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