Babies exposed to COVID in utero show changes in neurodevelopment

Babies exposed to COVID in utero show changes in neurodevelopment

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Babies born to mothers who developed COVID-19 during pregnancy appear to show differences in neurodevelopmental outcomes at 6 weeks, according to a preliminary analysis presented at the 30th European Congress of Psychiatry.

Project lead Dr Rosa Issa Areola said: “Not all babies born to mothers with COVID show differences in neurodevelopment, but our data show that their risk is increased compared to babies who were not exposed to COVID in utero. We need a larger study to know to confirm the exact extent of the difference.” .

Researchers have found that babies born to infected mothers show greater difficulties relaxing and adjusting to their bodies while they are held, compared to babies born to noninfected mothers, especially when the infection occurs in late pregnancy. Furthermore, babies born to affected mothers tend to show greater difficulty controlling head and shoulder movement. These alterations indicate a possible effect of COVID-19 on motor function (motion control).

The results came from a preliminary evaluation of the Spanish COGESTCOV-19 project, which followed the course of pregnancy and child development in mothers with COVID-19. The researchers provide data on pregnancy and postpartum assessment at 6 weeks after birth, but the project will continue to see if there are long-term effects. The group will monitor infants’ language and movement development between 18 and 42 months.

The preliminary assessment compared children born to 21 pregnant women with COVID and their babies, with 21 healthy controls at the University Hospital Marques de Valdesía in Santander, Spain. The mothers underwent a series of tests during and after pregnancy. These included hormonal and other biochemical tests (measuring things like cortisol levels, immune response, etc.) saliva tests, movement responses, and psychological questionnaires. All analyzes were adjusted for infant’s age, sex, and other factors.

Postnatal tests included the Newborn Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS), which measures the baby’s movement and behaviour.

Researcher Agueda Castro Quintas (University of Barcelona, ​​Network Center for Biomedical Research in Mental Health) said: “We found that some elements of the NBAS measurement were altered in 6-week-old infants exposed to SARS-CoV-2. They react effectively slightly differently than entrapped. or hug them.

“We have been particularly sensitive in how we conduct these tests. Each mother and child has been closely examined by clinicians with expert training in the field and in the tests.

“We need to note that this is a preliminary finding, but this is part of a project that follows a sample of over 100 mothers and their babies. They were also monitored during pregnancy and after childbirth. We also plan to compare these mothers and babies with data from another similar project (the epi project) looking at the effect of Stress and genes on a child’s neurodevelopment. This is an ongoing project, and we are at an early stage. We found that children whose mothers were exposed to COVID showed neurological effects at six weeks, but we don’t know if these effects will lead to any problems in the long term. Monitoring may help us to Long term understanding of it.”

Associate researcher Nerea San Martín González said: “Of course, there are many things that we cannot measure in very young children, such as language skills or cognition. We also need to be aware that this is a relatively small sample, so we are iterating the work, and we will follow that over the course of the year. Longer period. We need a larger sample to determine the role of infection in the offspring’s neurodevelopmental changes and the contribution of other environmental factors. In the meantime, we need to stress the importance of medical monitoring to facilitate a healthy pregnancy, and discuss any concerns with your doctor when necessary.”

Project Lead, Dr Rosa Issa Areola, said: “This is the right moment for international collaborations that will allow us to assess the long-term neurodevelopment in children born during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research in this area is vital to understanding and preventing possible problems. neuroticism and mental health vulnerabilities in these children in the coming years.”

In a separate comment, Dr. Livio Provenzi (University of Pavia, Italy), who was not involved in this work, said: “There is a great need to study the direct and indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and well-being of parents and infants. Pregnancy is a period of life that forms a large part From our later development, exposure to adversity during pregnancy can have long-term biological effects.These findings from Dr. Rosa Issa Areola’s group reinforce the evidence for epigenetic changes in infants born to mothers exposed to pandemic-related stress during pregnancy.It shows that we need further research. international scale to allow us to understand the developmental implications of this health emergency, and to provide better quality care for parents and infants.”

Babies born during the first year of an epidemic score slightly lower on a growth screening test

Presented by the European Psychiatric Association

the quote: Babies exposed to COVID in utero show alterations in neurodevelopment (2022, June 6) Retrieved June 6, 2022 from

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2022-06-06 15:03:47

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