Because COVID-19 is a new disease, we’re still learning about how it can affect pregnant people and babies. A recent research study published in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology, found that the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) may damage the placenta during pregnancy.
The placenta grows in your uterus (womb) and supplies your baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. During a small research study conducted this spring, doctors looked at the placentas of people who had given birth. People who had COVID-19 at the time they had their babies had a higher chance of problems with the placenta than those without COVID-19 during delivery.
The most common problem found during the study was an issue with blood clots and how blood flows through the placenta from mother to baby. Damaged blood vessels and blood clots can stop or reduce the amount of oxygen and nutrients delivered to your baby. Nutrients are parts of food, like vitamins and minerals, that help your baby grow. Damage to the placenta during pregnancy also can cause high blood pressure or preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is when a pregnant woman has high blood pressure and signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working properly.
After birth, problems with the placenta can cause life-long issues for mothers and babies, including a higher risk of developing heart disease, breathing problems, cerebral palsy, or certain types of cancer. If you have problems with the placenta in one pregnancy, you may have the same problem in future pregnancies.
The good news is that most of the women in the study had normal pregnancies and delivered healthy babies. Because other issues can cause problems with the placenta, more research is needed in this area.
Pregnant people with COVID-19 should be monitored closely before, during and after they give birth. The doctors involved in the study recommend that pregnant people continue to take steps to protect themselves from COVID-19, including wearing masks and staying six feet away from people that they don’t live with.