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  • COVID-19 During Pregnancy Appears To Have No Effect On Baby’s Brain: Study

    Something reassuring—but it’s no reason to let your guard down.
    by Maika Bernardo .
COVID-19 During Pregnancy Appears To Have No Effect On Baby’s Brain: Study
PHOTO BY SHUTTERSTOCK
  • You probably know by now that TV host Iya Villania-Arellano, pregnant with her fourth child, caught the dreaded virus. And you’ve probably wondered: What’s the effect of having COVID-19 on her unborn baby?

    A group of doctors sought to find an answer: “In our study, there was no evidence that a maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection has any effect on the brain development of the unborn child,” says Sophia Stöcklein, M.D. The senior author of the study is from the Department of Radiology at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. “This fact should help reassure affected parents.”

    Dr. Stöcklein and her colleagues aimed “to fill this gap in knowledge regarding the impact of a maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection on fetal brain development." However, she also says, “So far, although there are a few reports of vertical transmission [from the mother] to the fetus, the exact risk and impact remain largely unclear.”

    About the study

    The 33 COVID-19 patients who participated in this study underwent fetal MRI. On average, they were around 28 weeks pregnant at the time of the scan and experienced COVID-19 symptoms starting at 18 weeks. The most common ones for these patients were shortness of breath, dry cough, fever, and loss of or weakened sense of taste and smell.

    Their scans were evaluated by two US board-certified radiologists experienced in fetal MRI. According to the Radiological Society of North America, the said radiologists “found that the brain development in the assessed areas was age-appropriate in all fetuses. There were no findings indicative of infection of the fetal brain.”

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    Stay protected 

    That sounds like good news, but don’t let your guard down, moms and moms-to-be. Dr. Stöcklein says, “Since the impact of severe infection on brain development in the fetus has not been conclusively determined, active protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy remains important.”

    Both the Department of Health and the World Health Organization advise pregnant and also breastfeeding women to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Take it from Dr. Anna Lisa Ong-Lim, chief of the Infectious and Tropical Disease Section of the Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila: “These vaccines are inactivated. They are not live.” (Note: Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not contain the live virus.)

    Dr. Ong-Lim continues, “Whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding and you get vaccinated, [the vaccine] will not—even if it finds its way to your breast milk and goes to the baby or finds its way through the uterus into the baby—cause any problems with the pregnancy or with breastfeeding.”

    Another way to stay protected is to stay informed—especially for the sake of your unborn baby. Read other articles about COVID-19 here.

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