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COVID-19 affected almost every aspect of our lives, and people who are vulnerable to diseases seem to be at a higher risk of getting infected. One of the vulnerable groups that are more likely to get infected with COVID-19 is pregnant women. So far, evidence suggests that COVID-19 risk for pregnant women is high. Pregnant women with COVID might also be at an increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus disease. One concern that naturally arises is if the mother would transmit the virus to a newborn baby or not. A new study has found that the chances of pregnant women who are positive with COVID-19 when they give birth are very low.
A study published in the American Journal of Pathology found that Covid-19 illness affects a large number of pregnant women, but the rates of transfer from mother to baby during pregnancy are extremely low.
According to the study, ACE-2 from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), the receptor that allows SARS-CoV-2 to enter cells, is identified in lower quantities in the placentas of women with Covid-19 in pregnancy compared to those with normal (Covid negative) pregnancies.
Elizabeth S. Taglauer, Assistant Professor of Paediatrics at BUSM, said, "We think that when a woman has Covid-19 in pregnancy, the placenta is shedding off ACE-2 as a way to block SARS-CoV-2 from being passed to the fetus."
The scientists collected placentas from two groups of women who gave birth at BMC between July 2020 and April 2021 for the study. Women in the first group had normal pregnancies and no signs of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The second group of women had active Covid-19 disease throughout pregnancy and were SARS-CoV-2 positive.
The researchers next examined ACE-2 expression in their placentas under a microscope and used genetic and protein analysis tools to compare placental ACE-2 expression.
The placenta, according to the researchers, shares many characteristics with the lung, therefore this study emphasises the need of researching to better understand a variety of lung disorders, as well as the critical role of ACE-2 regulation in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infections.
Taglauer further added that the placenta is one of the pandemic's few 'success stories.' Understanding how the placenta naturally protects babies against Covid-19 may provide crucial information for medicines and measures to help prevent the spread of subsequent SARS-CoV-2 infections.
(With inputs from agencies)
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