Coronavirus: Covid-19 in pregnancy could affect babies' learning skills

The risk is more than doubled when the infection occurs in the third trimester



Image: Reuters
Image: Reuters

By Reuters

Published: Fri 10 Jun 2022, 11:36 AM

Researchers have found that babies born to mothers who had Covid-19 while pregnant may be at higher than average risk for problems in brain development. This could lead to problems in learning, focusing, remembering, and developing social skills.

The study involved 7,772 infants delivered in Massachusetts between March and September 2020. The babies were tracked until they turned 12 months old.

During that time, 14.4 per cent of the babies born to the 222 women who tested positive for Covid-19 during pregnancy were diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder, compared to 8.7 per cent of babies whose mothers avoided the virus while pregnant.

After accounting for other neurodevelopmental risk factors, including preterm delivery, a SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy was linked with an 86 per cent higher risk of a neurodevelopmental disorder diagnosis in offspring. The risk was more than doubled when the infection occurred in the third trimester.

The researchers point out that their study was brief and cannot rule out the possibility that additional neurodevelopmental effects will become apparent as the children grow up. On the other hand, they note, larger and more rigorous studies are needed to rule out other potential causes and prove that Covid-19 is to blame.

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