COVID is being blamed for an increase in potentially fatal pregnancy problems and stillbirths

COVID infections in women, which can cause severe blood pressure and harm the placenta, have been linked to an increase in potentially fatal pregnancy problems, some of which result in stillbirths.

According to a September study, if a woman contracts COVID, even if it is moderate, the virus can disrupt the placenta’s immunological response to other illnesses, putting foetuses at risk of stillbirth.

COVID infections can also produce micro clots in pregnant women’s blood vessels, placing them at risk for preeclampsia, a potentially fatal blood pressure disorder.

Lauren Phillips, a 32-year-old mother from New York, normally had an uneventful pregnancy, except for contracting COVID in her second trimester, which she described as a “moderate cold” on her blog.

However, just a few days after the birth of her son Arthur in April, the Brooklyn attorney was brought to the hospital when her blood pressure reached a hazardous 160/116. Phillips, who was up to date on her vaccines and cautious about masks, discovered in February that her preeclampsia physicians suspected was caused by an Omicron infection.

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy condition that kills 70,000 mothers and 500,000 babies globally each year, according to the Seattle Times, and the number of cases increased during the pandemic.

The condition is only one component of a deluge of information scientists examining the influence of COVID on pregnancy.

According to experts, women who got COVID-19 during their pregnancy have an increased chance of stillbirth. However, they believe immunisation could help prevent these cases, as statistics suggest that unvaccinated women are more likely to develop difficulties.

Lauren Smith, a 32-year-old mother from New York, had a smooth pregnancy until she became infected with COVID in her second trimester. She was admitted to the hospital with high blood pressure a few days after her kid was born and was diagnosed with preeclampsia. Doctors believe her illness was caused by her COVID infection.

Earlier in the pandemic, many people believed that COVID had little effect on unborn foetuses because so few newborns were born infected.

However, a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in September indicated that the infection affects the placenta’s immunological response to future infections.

“What we’re discovering today is that the placenta is vulnerable to COVID-19, and infection alters the way the placenta works, which is likely to impact foetal development,” said Dr Kristina Adams Waldorf.

COVID was previously thought to be a virus that only affected the respiratory tract, but it has now been shown to infect the circulatory system as well.

Doctors are particularly concerned that a COVID infection will “unmask” health issues that a pregnant woman’s immune system would normally shield her from.

The placenta is an organ that attaches to the uterus during pregnancy and connects to the umbilical cord, supplying oxygen and nutrients to the baby from the mother’s bloodstream.

Amy Heerema McKenney, a Cleveland Clinic pathologist whose job it is to figure out why some newborns die, began seeing eerily identical reports of stillbirths in the autumn and winter of 2021, according to The Times.

COVID is being blamed for an increase in potentially fatal pregnancy problems and stillbirths

She remembers feeling “very terrified” when she began examining events that occurred in short succession.

While a normal placenta is a spongy and dark crimson in colour, indicating the nourishing blood that flows through it, the placentas she investigated from mothers who had lost their kids were unlike anything she’d ever seen. They were hard, discoloured, scarred, and a darker colour.

“The level of damage was unprecedented,” she stated, noting that by the conclusion of their pregnancies, the majority of the women were in their second trimester, unvaccinated or inadequately vaccinated, and infected with COVID.

While a normal placenta is spongy and has a dark reddish hue (as shown above), the placentas she studied from moms who had lost their babies were firm, damaged, scarred, and brown in colour.

According to a number of studies, pregnant women infected with COVID had a 60% higher risk of preeclampsia than those who were not infected during the pandemic.

Other problems included preterm birth, infection, and death within six weeks of terminating the pregnancy.

“Right now, we’re not doing enough,” new mom Phillips admitted.

“Perhaps if people were more aware of the hazards, they might act differently,” she said, adding that she still has “ongoing worry about what damage this may or may not have done” in terms of future pregnancies.

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