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Oh COVID-19, Now You're Hurting Pregnant Moms and Babies, Too

COVID-19 may attack the placenta during pregnancy.
by Ana Gonzales
May 23, 2020
Photo/s: iStock

The health news keeps getting worse. 

The number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in the country continues to rise, leading pregnant women to feel fear and panic as they navigate through their pregnancy during this pandemic.

In a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology, experts found evidence of insufficient blood flow from the mother to the fetus, along with blood clots in the placenta, after they’ve conducted pathological exams following birth.

The placenta is an organ that develops in a woman’s uterus during pregnancy. It not only provides oxygen and nutrients to the growing baby, but it also removes waste products from your baby’s blood.

Insufficient blood flow and blood clots might interfere with the placenta’s role in delivering oxygen and nutrients to the baby.

"Not to paint a scary picture, but these findings worry me," said Dr. Emily Miller, Northwestern Medicine obstetrician and coauthor of the study.

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Although the study was only composed of 16 pregnant women who tested positive for COVID-19, Miller said it’s the largest examination of the health of placentas in COVID-19 positive women.

"I don't want to draw sweeping conclusions from a small study, but this preliminary glimpse into how Covid-19 might cause changes in the placenta carries some pretty significant implications for the health of a pregnancy," she said.

Dr. Denise Jamieson, co-writer of the physician practice advisory for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, on the other hand, said the study raises more questions than answers. "I don’t think we should jump the gun," Jamieson said.

Miller suggested experts should discuss whether or not there should be a change in how to monitor pregnant women, but Jamieson believes additional screening and testing involves all sorts of risks.

"Looking at the placenta will help us understand what's going on in pregnancy, but I think we need to be careful about jumping to what that means clinically in terms of care of pregnant women with Covid-19," Jamieson said.

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