Covid Linked To Brain Damage In Infants

New studies suggest that women who contracted Covid during pregnancy can pass it to their infants, leading them to be born with brain damage.

By Iqra Butt | Published

covid brain damage baby sleep products

The Covid-19 virus caused many adults long-term effects that they still feel until this day. Now, experts have found evidence suggesting the effects of Covid can pass from pregnant mother to child. Specifically, causing infants to be born with brain damage. 

Covid-19, or SARS-CoV-2, virus is a highly contagious viral illness that was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Today, the pandemic is still ongoing, with millions of confirmed cases and deaths worldwide. Vaccines and other public health measures, such as mask-wearing and social distancing, have been advised to help slow the spread of the virus.

The CDC says the symptoms of Covid-19 can vary from mild to severe, and can include fever, cough, fatigue, body aches, loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath, and respiratory distress. The virus primarily spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes, and can also be spread by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching one’s face. In the case of pregnant mothers, Covid can be spread through the placenta causing fetal brain damage. 

The placenta is an important organ that connects a developing baby to the mother’s uterus during pregnancy. The placenta acts as a barrier between the mother and the fetus, protecting the baby from harmful substances that could be present in the mother’s bloodstream. Some things can cross the placental barrier including diseases which could infect the developing baby, leading to serious health problems.

There are several known diseases that can cross the placenta and infect a developing baby that have been identified such as Rubella, Cytomegalovirus, HIV and the Zika virus reports NBC News. New research from the University of Miami has now reported the first two confirmed cases in which the Covid-19 virus crossed a mother’s placenta and caused brain damage in the infants. The babies were born in 2020 before the vaccines were available. 

Doctors had previously suspected that this was possible, but until now there was no direct evidence. Viruses that pass the placental barrier have been known to cause deafness, deafness, blindness, heart defects, intellectual disabilities, blindness, and seizures. A study from John Hopkins Medicine notes that infants who experience seizures can have developmental delays later in life.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reported that the two newborns had seizures on day 1 of life, suffered from microcephaly, and significant developmental delays.  At birth, the infants tested negative for Covid-19, however, they had detectable Covid-19 antibodies and increased blood inflammatory markers. One of the infants experienced unexpected infant death at 13 months.

The second infant had a follow-up exam at one year of age. The exam revealed microcephaly, abnormal neurologic examination, and significant neurodevelopmental delay with inability to roll over or sit unsupported. The infant is currently in hospice care, says The American Academy of Pediatrics.Dr. Shahnaz Duara, an OBGYN who co-authored the study, told the New York Post that these cases seem rare—adding that pregnant women infected with Covid should consult a pediatrician to look out for developmental delays in their child. Furthermore, the research team urged pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant to get vaccinated against Covid.