COVID-19 in pregnancy linked with babies' learning skills
14/06 - Babies born to mothers who had COVID-19 while pregnant may be at higher than average risk for problems with brain development involved in learning, focusing, remembering, and developing social skills, researchers have found.
They studied 7,772 infants delivered in Massachusetts between March and September 2020, tracking the babies until age 12 months. During that time, 14.4% of the babies born to the 222 women with a positive coronavirus test during pregnancy were diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder, compared to 8.7% of babies whose mothers avoided the virus while pregnant. After accounting for other neurodevelopmental risk factors, including preterm delivery, SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy was linked with an 86% higher risk of a neurodevelopmental disorder diagnosis in offspring, the researchers reported in JAMA Network Open. 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 the coronavirus is to blame.