Covid-19 can infect placenta in pregnant women: Study

Covid-19 virus can infect the placenta in pregnant women, a study jointly carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-National Institute of Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH) at Parel and Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc) stated.

The authors stated in their study published in the Frontiers of Cell and Developmental Biology journal that cross-transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is possible from infected mothers to their children.

The team noted that there is a strong likelihood of the transmission of the virus as the placental cells rely on the same receptor cells i.e. ACE2, the same receptor cells that the virus targets in the lungs and throat.

According to the Hindustan Times report, over 15,000 pregnant women in Maharashtra were Covid-19 positive. However, less than 1 per cent of newborns turned out to be coronavirus positive.

“During pregnancy, the fetus is protected from maternal infections by the placenta. The placenta is an organ that develops during pregnancy and provides oxygen and nutrients to the growing baby, removes waste products, and also blocks the transmission of the infections from mother to the baby by creating a barrier,” said Dr Deepak Modi, head of Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory, ICMR-NIRRH to HT. “However, the barrier can break if placental cells get infected, leading to mother-to-child transmission,” he said.

Mohit Kumar Jolly, the co-author and assistant professor, Centre for Biosystems Science and Engineering, IISC, said to HT: “Our study clearly shows that the organ (placenta) has molecular structures which get attached to the virus. There is also a possibility that the infection can spread to other parts of the body through the placenta due to the presence of certain cells.”

He added: “Since this is a secondary data-based study, we can’t say what per cent of women in India are getting Covid-19 infection in their placenta.”

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