(NEW YORK POST) – Coronavirus appears to attack pregnant women’s placenta in ways that could interfere with delivering oxygen and nutrients to the fetus, according to researchers.
The study, which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology, determined that all of the placentas of the participants showed signs of injury, suggesting that those infected with the virus may need closer monitoring, researchers said.
Researchers looked at 16 pregnant women who were found with COVID-19 during routine testing at Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women’s Hospital between March 18 and May 5.
Of the 16 women, there were 12 who had a type of injury called vascular malperfusion that can impair blood flow from the mother to the fetus, researchers said. Six of them had blood clots in the placenta.
“These findings support that there might be something clot-forming about coronavirus, and it’s happening in the placenta,” co-author Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein, a Northwestern pathologist, told Reuters.
These issues could hinder the placenta’s role in delivering oxygen and nutrients from the mom’s bloodstream to the fetus, as well as removing waste products from the baby’s blood.
Fifteen of the women delivered healthy babies, while one miscarried, researchers said. None of the babies who survived tested positive for coronavirus.
Researchers acknowledged the small size of the study, but said the findings present concerns about how coronavirus could impact pregnancy.
“Not to paint a scary picture, but these findings worry me,” said Northwestern Medicine obstetrician Dr. Emily Miller, a co-author of the study, according to CNN.
Miller said doctors could start testing the oxygen delivery of the placenta during the pregnancy in addition to following the growth of the babies using ultrasounds, the outlet reported.
“We must discuss whether we should change how we monitor pregnant women right now,” Miller said.