If you’re thinking of becoming a mother, it would be a great idea to avoid getting infected with COVID during the pregnancy. According to Los Angeles Times, a new study that examined more than 7,500 births reveals that babies who had their mothers infected with the coronavirus during the pregnancy could be at higher risk of disorders regarding brain development.
Autism and bipolar disorder are among the health issues that babies are in danger of developing. Autism generally affects 1 in 68 children, and it’s roughly 4 times more common in boys that in the case of girls. Viruses making babies more susceptible to other illnesses don’t represent anything new, so it was probably just a matter of time until researchers started wondering if the same thing could be applied in the case of COVID.
Dr. Roy Perlis, the senior author of the study and also the director of the Center for Quantitative Health at Massachusetts General Hospital, explained:
There are more than a decade of studies that suggest viral infection during pregnancy might be associated with neurodevelopmental disorders, so there was reason to be concerned likewise with this virus.
The examined data was taken from health records of deliveries that occurred in 2020 between March and September. During a year after the babies’ birth, their development was tracked. However, it’s best to remember that the overall risk for babies to develop disorders remains low.
The mothers of 222 of the babies had COVID during the pregnancy, and 6.3% of the little ones got a diagnosis until they became one year old. As for 7,550 babies whose mothers didn’t get the infection during the pregnancy, 3% of these children developed a brain development disorder until the age of one year old.
After taking other factors into account, the researchers concluded that babies who are exposed to the coronavirus while they’re in the uterus have 86% higher chances of being diagnosed during the first year than those babies whose mothers didn’t have COVID during the pregnancy.
In the end, it’s important to keep in mind that scientists acknowledge that one year doesn’t represent enough time to have a perfect understanding of how children can be affected by their mothers getting COVID during the pregnancy itself.
The new study was published in JAMA Network Open.