CHICAGO (WGN) — New research about COVID and children offers some promise, but may instill fear in mothers who have COVID before they deliver. Chicago neurologists found babies born to women who had COVID showed reassuring signs of growth and development when following up after six months.
The Lurie Children’s study was small but reassuring, looking at 33 women and their infants. The mothers had COVID during pregnancy but none of the infants tested positive. But this relieving study result does not occur in a vacuum.
Stress levels are at an all-time high, which obstetricians say poses a threat to babies. Pregnant women with COVID are 60% more likely to deliver prematurely which can lead to multiple health threats for the baby, according to the CDC, including hearing, vision, and breathing problems. Infected moms are also four times as likely to have a stillborn child, the CDC says. Inflammation from the mother’s immune response can change the way the brain develops, too.
“The greatest danger for unborn children exposed to COVID is not the coronavirus itself but the mother’s immune system,” according to University of Toronto neurologist Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou. That’s why experts urge pregnant women to get the COVID vaccine. The shots elicit an immune response without causing inflammation.
According to the CDC, at least 152,000 pregnant women in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID, and 25,000 have been hospitalized. As of Dec. 20, a total of 253 have died. Currently, only 35% of pregnant women are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
The main message now is to focus on getting protection. And if the baby is healthy, that’s a good sign. Risks posed from COVID, meanwhile, are not just limited to mom or baby. A new study suggests that a man’s sperm quality may be impaired for months after a COVID diagnosis, which can diminish the ability to conceive.