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Being infected with mild or moderate Covid in pregnancy does not harm the baby's brain

After almost two years of a pandemic, we know that pregnant women are more vulnerable to the virus that causes Covid-19. However, little is known about the possible consequences for a fetus if the mother becomes infected during pregnancy.

A new study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) comes to bring a lot of reassurance to pregnant women. The research concludes that mild to moderate Covid-19 in pregnant women appears to have no effect on the brain of the developing fetus .

No findings of infection in the brain

“Women infected with SARS-CoV-2 during pregnancy are concerned that the virus may affect the development of the fetus, as is the case with other viral infections,” said lead study author Sophia Stöcklein of the Department of Radiology. at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, in Germany. “Until now, although there are some reports of vertical transmission to the fetus, the exact risk and impact remained unclear. The aim of our study was to fill this gap on the impact of a maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection on fetal brain development ”.

Stöcklein and her colleagues used fetal MRI to study 33 pregnant women with Covid-19 infection at approximately 28 weeks’ gestation. Symptoms appeared around 18 weeks of pregnancy, and the most common were loss or decreased sense of smell and taste, dry cough, fever, and shortness of breath.

Two radiologists with experience in fetal MRI evaluated the scans and found that brain development in the evaluated areas was age appropriate for all fetuses . In fact, there were no findings indicative of fetal brain infection.

“In our study, there was no evidence that a maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection has any effect on fetal brain development,” Stöcklein said. “This fact should help reassure affected parents,” he added.

Non-hospitalized women

However, they clarify that only mothers with mild to moderate symptoms and without hospitalization were included in the study, Stöcklein said .

“Since the impact of a severe infection on fetal brain development has not been conclusively determined, active protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy remains important,” he said.

“So far, vaccination is the most promising protection against Covid-19, ” said Dr. Stöcklein. “Any potential side effects are manageable, even in pregnant women. Therefore, despite the encouraging results of our study, pregnant women should seriously consider vaccination. “

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